Archive for Thursday, August 15, 2002

Freedom flight taps Salina pilot as Kansas entry

Onetime flier in Vietnam War to represent state in 9-11 memorial

August 15, 2002


— As an aviator, Ronald Williams has piloted some important flights, many for his country in the Vietnam War. Now, the Salina man is joining others from across the country in a flight for freedom that will take them past ground zero in New York.

Williams, a former Air Force colonel and former TWA pilot, will transport the Kansas flag to Essex, N.J., as part of Flight Across America a project to celebrate freedom in aviation and to honor people killed on Sept. 11.

Join in Participation in the Flight Across America is not limited to those pilots transporting flags. The organization is inviting any pilot to honor Sept. 11 heroes by taking to the air anytime between now and Sept. 11. Many pilots are choosing to fly cross country, but people are encouraged to fly anywhere they can. The organization is asking people to register their flights at its Web site,

On Sept. 8, a parade of planes transporting flags from all 50 states will fly down the Hudson River past ground zero and the Statue of Liberty, landing in Essex. Later that day the flags will be presented onboard the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, which is anchored in Manhattan.

Flight Across America organizers plan to choose flag bearers from 50 states and Puerto Rico, said Rusty Eddy, spokesman for the organization.

Williams said he was among a number of veterans who have applied, including some police officers and firefighters.

But there also has been interest from "simple citizens who wanted to show their solidarity with the 9-11 heroes and who wanted to express their outrage at the terrorist attacks," Williams said.

Williams will fly his Van's RV-4, a two-seat plane he built two years ago from a kit.

The trip will take about six hours, with one stop for fuel, probably in Indianapolis, he said.

Williams is working with the state director of aviation to see if he can transport a flag that's flown on the Statehouse in Topeka.

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