Sky High: Recent IU grads return from Flight to 48 fundraising mission

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Inspired by their grandfathers, Mitch Miller and Calvin Page both became interested in aviation at a young age.

Miller, a 2014 Zionsville Community High School graduate, was introduced to planes and flying by his grandfather when he was 15 years old. A recent Indiana University graduate, he pursued flying through his college years and, along with Page, embarked on a fundraising mission to take-off and land a Cessna 182 in all 48 contiguous United States.

What began as a small-scale project expanded into a fundraiser that benefited the Indianapolis Aviation Career Education Academy – an unprecedented undertaking, according to academy owner Ryan Lynch.

“This is really a great opportunity and something unique and the first of its kind,” Lynch said. “I’ve been very privileged and honored for them to share (the same) interest.”

Miller and Page completed the trip in only 17 days. They embarked May 6 and returned May 22. They raised $5,000 for the Indianapolis ACE Academy, completing much of the fundraiser prior to the flight. Along the way, the pair stayed with family or friends or slept in airport hangers. Some well-wishers donated fuel. The funds raised will go toward providing underprivileged youth an opportunity to participate in the academy.

Miller said the most thrilling moments were flying through the Rocky Mountains.

“The most interesting part of the trip and biggest learning experience for us was flying through the mountains,” Miller said. “In a small airplane like that and the size of the Rocky Mountains, it’s pretty breathtaking being so close to mountains like that. It was probably the most nerve-wracking and most exciting.”

Page, like Miller, was drawn to flying because of his grandfather.

“My interest in aviation initially started when I was pretty young because my grandfather was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force for 30 years,” Page said. “I wasn’t really able to speak with him with the knowledge of aviation I have now. I would look up in the sky and see a plane and it would always catch my eye.”

Page also began to look further into aviation to distinguish himself from other students on college applications.

“At the end of the day, we did this for ACE Academy to promote it for kids looking to get into aviation,” Page said. “I’ve found my passion for aviation and Mitch has found his, but the aspects and characteristics you build through aviation, skills like multi-tasking or communication, are skills you can do in everyday life. It wraps up all quality life skills into one hobby.”

Miller and Page don’t have another trip planned but have talked to Lynch about ways to stay involved.

“We talked to Ryan about continuing our involvement with speaking engagements or lending an extra hand and trying to help out that way,” Miller said. “I could foresee another flight of this nature in the future to raise funds again for the cause they have, to keep the younger generations interested in aviation.”

The academy offers programs for one to two weeks throughout the year and also offers summer camps. The camps are at the Vincennes Aviation Technology Center at the Indianapolis International Airport.

To learn more about the Flight to 48 journey, visit flightto48.com

For more information on the Indianapolis Aviation Career Education Academy, visit indyace.com.

SIDEBAR:

Mitch Miller and Calvin Page traveled to 48 states in 17 days in their Cessna 182. Here is the day-by-day breakdown of their Flight to 48 trip.

Day 1: Departed Indiana. Landed in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Day 2: Landed in New Jersey, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut

Day 3: Landed in Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

Day 4: Landed in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Day 5: Landed in Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.

Day 6: Landed in Texas

Day 7: Landed in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona.

Day 8: Landed in Utah, Nevada and California.

Day 9: Grounded due to weather

Day 10: Landed in Oregon

Day 11: Grounded due to weather

Day 12: Landed in Washington and Idaho

Day 13: Grounded due to weather

Day 14: Landed in Montana

Day 15: Landed in North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.

Day 16: Grounded due to weather

Day 17: Landed in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana.

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