June 23, 2014 – On Saturday, June 21, Chris and April Nesin of Chattanooga, Tennessee, set out on their journey to retrace the 1966 cross-country flight by brothers Rinker and Kern Buck depicted in Rinker’s book, Flight of Passage. What makes the flight unique is that the Nesins are doing it in N4971H, the actual Piper PA-11 Cub Special in which the brothers flew the route some 48 years ago. So it was more than fitting that the Buck brothers were at the annual Cub gathering, the Sentimental Journey Fly-In at Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, to see their old plane…and see the Nesins off.
Next month Chris, EAA 516893, will fly his J-3 Cub in EAA’s STOL flight demonstrations at AirVenture Oshkosh 2014. The Nesins will also have 71H in Oshkosh, which they acquired 2-1/2 two and a half years ago and restored for the flight.
For Chris, a fractional corporate pilot, Buck’s book was what got him interested in flying Cubs in the first place. He said they often had the Flight of Passage audiobook playing as they worked, and he re-read the book several times during the restoration process.
April wrote in her flight blog on the first day of the journey: “We were able to meet up with Kern and Rinker for the beginning of the trip. (Chris) took great care to restore the airplane not only to make it beautiful, but to preserve as much of its history as possible. It was great to see how much the Buck boys like the plane and how that impacted Chris - grinning from ear to ear throughout the five hours we were lucky to spend with them.”
Kern provided Chris with his personal logbook, which will be used for the flight. Chris also wrote about the fantastic receptions they’ve received so far.
“Each airport we stopped at the rest of the day had local reporters or fans of the book waiting on us. It was so exciting to share 71H with people. At one point in Finleyville, near Pittsburg, we met a sweet couple who had driven 40 minutes to come see the plane.”
Chris then described the next stop, Washington County, which was the second actual stop for the Buck brothers in the book.
“The airport now has more business jet traffic these days and I was sure expecting to be tossed toward the back of the ramp and be ignored for service. When the line guys marshaled us in, I said to April, ‘You think these guys even know who we are?’
Chris recalled the interaction: “‘Need any gas?’ the lineman asked. No, we just filled at Finleyville. ‘Well that’s too bad,’ he said and then added, ‘Boss said give you guys free gas and anything else they need. There is also a reporter here that wants to talk to you.’
“They ended up finding a way to fit one gallon of gas in our tank. Gave us enough oil to change the oil and an extra, soda, calls, free copies of our flyer we were running low on. Basically we got the best line service of the trip there. Can’t say enough about how nice they were.”
Chris added that at their next destination, a private grass strip, the owners had tea waiting and invited a local reporter who thought it was great we had chosen their small town as the first stop in Ohio. Throughout the rest of the trip, which is scheduled to end at Flabob on June 30, many people including a number of EAA chapters are waiting to welcome them.
You can follow the flight’s progress as it heads west toward Flabob Airport in Riverside, California, at the Flight of Passage website, which is being hosted by SuperCub.org.
Chris’ mother is also tracing the flight on the ground with a camper, renamed “N4971 Hotel” for the trip.
You can also follow the flight’s Twitter feed at @RetracingFOP.