Young Cousins Complete Flight


In a year of remarkable aviation achievements (GlobalFlyer, SpaceShipOne) a solitary Aeronca Champ would easily escape notice as it putted over the countryside. But for a couple of 17-year-old cousins from New Jersey, the tiny tandem carried them to no less a sense of accomplishment than all of the well-funded exploits that captured the headlines this year. Last Sunday, Ben Dunkerley and Nick Reed did a flypast before landing at Hampton Air Field after a 6,000-mile round trip to California patterned after Rinker Buck’s book “Flight of Passage” about two teenaged brothers who did a similar trip. “We read the book and thought to ourselves, ‘We could do that,'” said Reed. The boys left Hampton in the Champ (borrowed from their grandfather) on July 20 and made it to their uncle’s place in California in six days. They stayed for two weeks and headed home. They flew two-hour legs, stopping for fuel and rest at small airfields, some of which required a call to the local sheriff to open up the gas pumps. Bad weather in Kansas and a ground loop in Texas added some interest to the flight, which mostly went smoothly. Dunkerley logged 150 flight hours and Reed 140 on the flight. But while they copied the flight from the book, they’re not planning to write one of their own. They do, however, want to make the flight again.