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48N48 World Record Set!
Aaron Wilson, Put-in-Bay High School Class of 1999, successfully helped to set a world record this past month. He and fellow pilot, Barry Behnfeldt, left Michigan late on the night of June 4th in Barry’s plane, with the goal of landing in each of the lower 48 states in 48 hours. Their flight was billed as “48N48” (48 states in 48 hours). It took exactly 44 hours and 16 minutes to fly over 5000 miles touching down in each of the 48 continental states with their final landing in South Portland, Maine. Not only did they set a new world record, but also did it in 3 hours and 44 minutes less than 48 hours. Barry said, the 48N48 flight was a true team effort.
When it comes to records and firsts for Put-in-Bay, Aaron’s name will be there with Perry’s Monument (World’s Tallest Doric Column, Crystal Cave (World’s Largest Geode), the Beer Barrel Saloon, for many years the World’s longest bar, Muscle Bay’s Brandon Copeland’s bench pressing record set last year in the downtown park, and Lee de Forest’s first ship-to-shore radio broadcast at the I-LYA Regatta in 1907.
Barry Behnfeldt and Wilson have several things in common. They both grew in small communities in Ohio, both graduated from Bowling Green State University, both were military pilots, and both are pilots with Delta Airlines. Intrigued with the challenge, Barry knew immediately upon meeting Aaron, that he would be the perfect choice for his co-pilot.
Aaron also embraced the challenge and the two were off and running, or should we say “off and flying.” With lots of planning, which included getting folks on the ground at each airport at all hours to validate their landings. Each stop and fuel stop had to be as short as possible.
Onboard with Barry and Aaron was Thomas Twiddy, a retired U.S. Navy aviation mechanic and their inflight technician and director of maintenance. He had thoroughly serviced and pre-checked the plane.
When the two flew into the Put-in-Bay Airport on Thursday, June 1st, to meet their island supporters before their flight, one could tell immediately they had the experience, had done the months of much-needed planning and were perfectly suited to set a new record. Aaron’s mother Karen Burris from North Bass was there, plus his aunt, PIB librarian Karen Wilhelm, who designed a special banner signed by island well wishers which was onboard the plane for the 48N48 flight.
Here are a few interesting things about the flight. They departed at about 11 p.m. from an airport in Michigan so they could fly over the Rocky Mountains during daylight hours. The average leg of the flight was 41 minutes, with the longest leg being one hour and 40 minutes. Their shortest stop was about 5 minutes. The average non-fuel stop was 8 minutes. There was a great stop in Atlanta, Georgia, where they met with Delta Air Lines leadership to get a special signoff. As they neared the end of their journey, Barry was notified that his daughter had given birth to his first grandson. After the flight was finished, the flight data was submitted to Guinness World Records for review and decision on meeting the criteria to certify it a world record.
When the plane made its final touch down in Maine, Put-in-Bay School’s science teacher Missi Kowalski and her two sons, Caleb and Cody, who were in New England vacationing, were on hand to welcome the trio who, by their achievement, have helped inspire the next generation of pilots amidst shortages in the U.S. aviation industry.
Aaron and Barry want to thank everyone so much for the support of their mission, and now that the world record mission is complete, they will be giving 48N48’s proceeds to Veterans Airlift Command, a nonprofit organization that provides free, private air transportation to our nation’s combat injured veterans for medical or other compassionate purposes through a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots. The VAC Website is https://veteransairlift.org/
The previous piece is published in this month’s Put-in-Bay Gazette. The Gazette has been producing incredible independent Put-in-Bay island news for over 40 years. If you have any interest at all in what is happening on South Bass Island, we urge you strongly to subscribe to the Put-in-Bay Gazette. One-year online subscriptions are only $15, and print subscriptions are available as well. To subscribe please click here.