Stearman reaches final destination

Stearman reaches final destination
Stearman reaches final destination | Stearman reaches final destination
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Mike Rinker has been flying airplanes for nearly 30 years, but the thrill of flying a World War II PT-17 Stearman is an experience he humbly described as “an interesting deal.”
Rinker flew the bright blue and yellow airplane from Everett-Stewart Regional Airport to Everett Boulevard early today and landed it right in front of the Discovery Park of America.
“It’s not the most difficult plane I’ve ever landed, but it’s one of the most difficult,” Rinker told The Messenger early today, before his historic flight.
He described the Stear-man as “elegant” and “state-ly” and said the plane flies “very honest.”
It was an impressive spectacle as the single-engine Stearman rumbled smoothly from out of the bright blue skies onto the black asphalt that served as Rinker’s landing strip.
Everett Boulevard in front of the Discovery Park of America was blocked off for the landing and once on the ground, Rinker maneuvered the plane through the main entrance of Discovery Park of America. It will be hung from the ceiling as part of the facility’s military exhibit.
Nancy Atkins of Union City and Sue Williams of Memphis were among the first spectators to arrive on the parking lot of Second Baptist Church, across the boulevard from Discovery Park. They set up lawn chairs to enjoy today’s historic landing.
“It’s not every day you see a plane landing on the highway,” Ms. Atkins said.
“I’m looking forward to the museum opening,” Ms. Williams added. “I was really surprised they got a plane for the museum.”
They were among a large crowd of spectators lined up along a wire fence as the Stearman made several low passes over Discovery Center in the complex.
Chelsea Sanford, 7, of Union City positioned herself across the boulevard from the main entrance to Discovery Park to witness the plane’s landing.
“I’ve never seen an old-fashioned plane; I’ve never seen a plane ever,” she told The Messenger.
She was there this morning with her father, Byron Sanford, a member of the U.S. Army.
“It’s exciting. It’s not often you get to see a plane landing on the highway,” said Jason Molands of Union City.
He was there with his friend, Jimmy Schmidt, also of Union City, as they got a good view of the Stearman landing.
“I think it’s going to be good for the community…Discovery Park,” Schmidt said.
The Stearman’s high-profile landing at Discovery Park of America today was scheduled to help promote this fall’s grand opening of the multi-million dollar education and entertainment complex.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.28.13

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