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EAAer Plans Sam Burgess Memorial Junket

J.W. French
J.W. French plans to recreate Sam Burgess' trip around the lower 48 states this year.

April 11 2008 — You meet the most interesting people in aviation, like J.W. French, EAA 226844, of Fort Myers, Florida. J.W. became friends with the late Sam Burgess in 1975 or 1976, after reading Sam's book, The Jungmeister Junket, which told the story of his flight to all 50 states in 1970 in a Bucker Jungmeister ... a flight he did over again through the lower 48 states and Alaska in 1974 in an Acro Sport.

J.W. thought that sounded like fun, and Sam said to him, "Well, why don't you do it, too. If you can't do it now, do it when you retire." So, about 30 years ago, J.W. started planning a flight through the lower 48 states. In 2005, he set out in a Bakeng Deuce with a 108 hp engine. He was having a great flight until he reached the mountains, and then he didn't have enough horsepower to get through Mullen Pass in Montana. He flew 9,500 miles that summer at an average speed of 97 mph.

This summer he plans to finish re-creating Sam's 1974 flight, in an Acro Sport this time. His current plan is to leave from Fort Myers on July 1, and he'll fly from Florida to Arizona, where he'll pick up his first new state, then fly on to Nevada, California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and on to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008. Along the way, he's hoping to visit other EAA Chapter members. If you'd like J.W. to stop at your airport, you can e-mail him at jwf11228@msn.com. He'd be happy to tell you about his flight and about Sam Burgess, and I'll guarantee that you'll enjoy having J.W. around. He may be 71 years old, but he says he's "working hard at not growing up."

- Mary Jones

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