Friday, July 04, 2014

Chris and April Nesin: Cross country flight recreates history

Chris and April Nesin have retraced history from the East Coast to Jurupa Valley’s historic Flabob Airport.

The couple flew their crimson and cream 1948 Piper Super Cub Special from Danbury, Conn., to Riverside, landing just before 1 p.m. Thursday.

The Nesins weren’t the first to make the trip in that plane.

The first flight was made by brothers Kern and Rinker Buck, who flew a similar route in the Piper as teenagers in 1966. Rinker Buck recounted the journey is his 1997 memoir titled “Flight of Passage.”

Chris Nesin, 40, of Chattanooga, Tenn., said a friend gave him “Flight of Passge” years ago and he was fascinated by the story.

“I don’t know any pilot who has read that book and didn’t want to do that journey,” he said.

In fall 2011, Nesin was looking at classified ads and saw that the plane once owned by the Bucks was for sale, he said. He bought it, and he and his wife, April, spent more than two years restoring it.

“Even before I bought this plane, I was going to do this flight across country,” he said.

Chris Nesin said he and April, 39, met with the Buck brothers before taking off on their 12-day trip.

In addition to fulfilling a dream, the Nesins are using their flight to help raise awareness for the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer.

The trip took 12 days, with the couple stopping at airports on the way to show off the plane.

Chris Nesin’s mother followed their route in an RV with their dog, Lenny Bruce.

April Nesin said Lenny often flies with them but could not go on this flight because with the weight of the fuel they had to carry he would have put them over the limit.

“He has 400 hours in the Piper Cub,” she said.

April Nesin said some of the more interesting sights she spied from above included the fence along the Mexican border in Arizona and California and the mountainous desert landscape.

“It was comfortable and it was amazing,” she said of the flight. “It was beautiful.”

John Lyon, corporate secretary and trustee of The Tom Wathen Center, said the Buck brothers finished their trip at the airport in San Juan Capistrano. That airport closed about 30 years ago, so the Nesins chose Flabob, he said.

That route change wasn’t the only thing that makes the Nesins’ flight different from the Bucks’.

“When Rinker and Kern did it, there was no radio, no electric system and no GPS,” said Lyon, also a pilot. “So they had to do it with paper maps and looking out the window. Since this is the modern age, Chris and April are tweeting.”

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