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Aaron Wilson, PIBHS Class of 1999, and Barry Behnfeldt, both pilots and grads of BGSU, will be attempting to set a record for the Guinness Book of World Records. They will attempt to set a world record for the fastest journey by plane across the U.S. stopping in the lower 48 states in 48 hours. They fittingly call their journey “48N48.” The two men have more than 70 years of military and commercial flying experience and are also looking to inspire the next generation of pilots as the nation grapples with shortages in the aviation industry.
Behnfeldt and Wilson and their on-board mechanic plan to depart on their cross-country journey at 11:20 p.m. on June 4th from Andrews University Airpark in Berrien Springs, Michigan, in Behnfeldt’s 1980 Piper Saratoga six-seat airplane.
Behnfeldt and Wilson are both captains for Delta Airlines. Behnfeldt was a U.S. Navy pilot, and Wilson, his copilot for the 48N48, grew up in Put-in-Bay and began flying lessons at 14 as a way to get off the island in the winter when Lake Erie froze. His interest in aviation continued when he enrolled at the University, where he joined the Air Force ROTC program. Wilson was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force after graduating and is a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserves.
The two pilots estimate their world-record-setting, 5,008-mile journey across the country will take roughly 39 hours and 57 minutes to complete, barring any unforeseen mechanical issues or inclement weather conditions. Their calculation accounts for 10-minute stops at each airport, where they must get signatures to certify their presence as required by Guinness World Records and five fuel stops they expect will take about 20 minutes each.
Plans call for taking off at night and heading west to fly over the mountains in the western U.S. in the daylight. If all goes according to plan, the crew will travel through Texas and Oklahoma and into flatter territory as the sun sets on June 5th.
They’ll continue their journey through the southern U.S. and along the East Coast, arriving at the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport in Sanford, Maine, at 3:07 p.m. on June 6th
Islanders will be anxiously following Aaron’s progress. The entire flight will be viewable in perpetuity in FlightAware, the world’s largest flight-tracking platform. In addition, Aaron’s aunt, Karen Wilhelm made a flag in support of the flight which will be onboard. At press time, June 1st, Aaron and Barry are flying to Put-in-Bay where members of the island community can sign the flag in support of the flight.
Fly High! Fly Safe! & Set that World Record!
Putinbay.com is proud to present this Put-in-Bay Gazette article from the June 2023 issue.
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