On May 6, just two days after receiving their diplomas, three seniors will shed their caps and gowns and begin their journey to fly and land in all 48 contiguous states.
Calvin Page and Mitch Miller had only planned to fly up and down the east coast this summer when, one day, Page received a text.
“I can’t stop thinking about this trip," Page said Miller texted. "Let’s do all 48.”
Flying to 48 states is a benchmark in the aviation community. Many have done it, but at a much more leisurely pace. This group plans to complete their trip in nine days.
The three plan to leave Bloomington and head for the east coast, where they will then circumnavigate the country clockwise.
“One state at a time, that’s the motto," Miller said.
Miller and Page said they knew that if they were going to do something this big, they had to do it for a cause.
In class, Adam Lark heard his two friends talking and obsessing about the trip every day and said he immediately wanted in. Though not a pilot, Lark is helping document their journey and grow their brand, Flight to 48.
Their goal is to raise money for the Indianapolis Aviation Career Education Academy (ACE). Their current goal is to donate $50,000 to this non-profit organization that helps grow the young aviation professional community.
“We were fortunate enough to have pilot training and mentors in our life, so we wanted to give these kids something similar,” Page said.
Not only are the three Kelley School of Business students raising money, but they are partnering with ACE to develop a curriculum. Using learning outcomes from each leg of the flight, Page said they hope to inspire other young pilots to take on similar challenges.
Miller and Page have spent over 70 hours creating their map, carefully hand-picking airports and runways in the farthest corners of each state to create the the most efficient route.
The three will be renting a N9980E, a plane neither Miller or Page have ever flown. The four-seated, single-engine, propeller plane is just barely bigger than a minivan.
In a plane this small, cruising around 10,000 feet, they will be at the mercy of the weather. In case of an emergency landing, they are packing ten gallons of water, reflective blankets and matches.
“Safety and weather are synonymous in the air,” Page said.
The most difficult part of their journey, Miller said, will be the northeast. He said mapping out restricted airways and dealing with air traffic in the New York City region will be their greatest challenge.
Their longest flight will be two and a half hours, and the most time they’ll spend on the ground is when they land to sleep inside the hangars.
During their flight, they will see Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, One World Trade Center and other landmarks from their cockpit.
“We have the opportunity to see some pretty amazing things," Lark said. "I think it’s going to be a pivoting moment in our lives."
Page said it’s about the moments that lie ahead they can’t foresee. He said it's about the unknown.
“I mean, who knows the kind of places and people we are going to meet along the way?” Page said.
Miller and Page start their jobs in July and said they saw this window as the perfect opportunity to do what they are passionate about.
Miller remembers his first solo flight, nervously pulling back the yoke and emerging above the clouds, feeling a sense of relief. Looking out the window to his right, Miller said it was a completely different world.
“I want more people to be able to experience this same feeling," Miller said. "That’s what the Flight to 48 is about."
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