News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Area Agency on Aging 10B, Inc.

Wayside Furniture

Akron Children's Hospital

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us

Flying "low and slow" to each of Ohio's 88 counties
A Kent State professor and a retired doctor fly vintage Piper Cub planes from Portage County to Dayton – stopping in every county in the state

Jasen Sokol
Kent State professor Joe Murray lands his 1946 Piper Cub at Beach City Airport in Stark County for one of 88 stops around the state.
Courtesy of Jasen Sokol
Download (WKSU Only)

Two Northeast Ohio pilots are returning home, 10 days after taking off on a voyage in a pair of vintage aircraft. As WKSU’s Amanda Rabinowitz reports, the two men logged more than 1,500 miles...without leaving the state.

Listen to the story of two pilots flying to 88 counties

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:53)

88 counties, one week
Kent State journalism professor Joe Murray and retired doctor Ron Siwik have spent the last week flying vintage Piper Cub planes from Portage County to Dayton – stopping in every county in the state along the way. It’s a trip that could land them in the record books for the fastest time to land a Piper Cub in all of Ohio’s 88 counties.

At a stop last week in rural Stark County, you could tell the journey has been strenuous. The two were slow to climb out of their bright yellow aircraft and quick to find somewhere to sit along the wide grass runway at the Beach City Airport.

Cabin fever and an anniversary
Murray says the idea was hatched out of cabin fever. “This year is the 75th anniversary of the Piper Cub. And I said ‘Boy maybe I should fly this thing down to the Huffman Prairie, where the Wright Brothers first flew airplanes,” he said. “But it was like a seed. And the longer the cabin fever lasted the bigger the idea got.”

They couldn’t get permission to land at Huffman Prairie north of Dayton, so they settled for nearby Dayton Wright Brothers Airport. Still, the experience of flying “low and slow” is one that Siwik says is a dream come true.

“I have another airplane that’s faster, flies higher. Looking down at the countryside for the last 45 years, I’ve developed a desire to get a little closer to the terrain and not zip past so fast and really get down and meet the people and touch down on the runways and experience the local flavor.”

Generous folks along the way
Murray says the people he’s met on the journey so far have been incredibly generous, offering them everything from gas for the planes to homemade ice cream…and a passerby offered them a lift after they landed at an airport in Findlay after closing time.  

“We walked out to the highway and stood there with the thumb out,” Siwik said. “And about the seventh passerby pulled over and said ‘Did you fly in in those Cubs?’”

“He said ‘what are you guys doing?” Murray added. “I said ‘well you know we just landed here, everything’s closed we need to get a ride to a hotel’ and he said ‘I’ll take you.’ So we threw all the stuff in his trunk. I don’t know his last name but he’s our new best friend Daniel. He drove us all the way out to the hotel,… wished us well, said ‘praise the Lord’ and drove away.”

One man even tagged along in his own plane for a few legs of the journey. Bob Taylor of Wadsworth learned about the trip online:

“I had to take the day off today just to do this little bit. But I would really like to spend more time and take three or four days and do a trip like this. It would be great.”

A unique find at Beach City 
There were just two people waiting on the runway at Beach City to greet the pilots. But Murray was still excited for the stop. He was particularly interested in one plane, an old Douglas DC-3. Those types of planes were built as passenger planes in the 30s and 40s. Murray thinks that Beach City’s DC-3, with chipping paint and weeds growing around the tires, may hold a special significance to many of Ohio’s county airports.

“Rumor is that Jim Rhodes, Governor Rhodes, used it to fly around Ohio to commission all of the airports. So it’s a pretty special airplane. I got just a little bit of that story from a pilot when I was here about a year ago and I want to come back and find out a little more about it.”

Obstacles along the way
The trip hasn’t been without obstacles. The trip had to be delayed when one of the planes lost brake pressure. And in Toledo, air traffic controllers weren’t used to the lack of modern equipment in the vintage planes.

“I find myself calling back saying we don’t have a transponder and, oh by the way, we don’t have any electricity in the airplane,” Murray said. “So the radio goes quiet for a couple seconds and then they figure out how to accommodate us.”
Future plans
Murray plans to use his experience as the basis for a book. He’s also raising money at each stop for a scholarship that will help a disadvantaged student attend Kent State.

Murray and Siwik expect to complete their adventure in Dayton this week.

(Click image for larger view.)

Related Links & Resources
Joe Murray's blog

Listener Comments:

This DC3 has quite ahistory. During WWII it reportedly was used by the King of Denmark, Postwat it was used by the FAA to do route checks (testing nav aids) then was obtained by the state of Ohio. I remeber parking this aircraft when Carroll County airport was dedicated. Many years ago I helped replace the fabric on the control surfaces. It is still there.

Posted by: Jerry Patterson (Sandyville, OH) on June 14, 2012 7:06AM
Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Bhutanese resettlement has had a big economic impact
Informative especially for nonmembers of North Hill. I appreciate the fact that you mention that the younger generation has an easier time than the elders but t...

Ottawa County Commissioner sworn in as new house member
Congratulations on your new appointment to the Ohio House. I'm certain you will do an outstanding job in your new role representing our district. When you have...

Holden Arboretum opens a new canopy walk and emergent tower
Visited the Holden Arboretum today to witness the incredible work you did constructing the tower and bridges.WOW! Very impressed. Knew the build had to be great...

Local club works to bring back the once-prevalent American elm
I would love to help! Where would I get some of the new Strain so I could plant them?

Four Geauga school districts consider consolidating on the Kent State campus
Berkshire was smart to merge with Ledgemont because it had shrinking enrollment and excess capacity at its high school. Now that Cardinal is dragging its feet ...

Ohio Rep. John Boccieri sworn into office and hopes to look for 'middle ground' with colleagues
Welcome back to the Statehouse, John. You are a terrific representative in the truest sense always representing the people's voice in teh district you serve. ...

Lawmakers call for indefinite freeze on Green Energy standards
It's a shame the Hudson Rep. Chooses to mimic the words of the extreme right senator on his way out to join ALEC when we know the Pope was just here because of...

Youngstown Schools file suit against the Ohio Department of Education to stop the implementation of an academic distress commission
Voters should ask WHY this plan was rushed into law under the cover of darkness. What clues point to the beneficiaries of this plan? Both Patrick O'Donnell of...

More join the battle against Ohio's current forfeiture laws
NOT TRUE IN OHIO! ! My cousin's 8 rental houses were siezed in the early 2000s. He was a decorated Cleveland Police officer and detective (now retired). His dis...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University