The Vagabond 3
The time has come when the vagabond lives up to his name. In a couple of weeks I will be traveling to the land of my birth. Lithuania, an insignificant country, desired by Russia, aka Putin. The war in the Ukraine may spill over into the three Baltic countries even if they are NATO. That chance of it happening may seem small, but a world and local politics brings together strange bedfellows.
The reason for the trip is to complete one of my final bucket lists. This all started when I was a teenager and heard the story of two Lithuanian pilots, who in 1933, attempted to fly from New York, Mitchel field to Kaunas, Lithuanian. A nonstop distance of 4,447 in a modified 1930s Bellanca Pacemaker. Darius and Girenas flew nonstop 4043 miles before crashing 404 miles shy of their destination in the forests of Soldin Germany.
After hearing their story, I decided that it would honor them if someone finished their flight. That someone was going to be me. From then my goal was to be a pilot. Move to 1996. With retirement coming close, I decided to search for a Bellanca Pacemaker. Looked all over the world,
There where only 6 in the world. After a year of looking, I found one of all places in Portland, Dismantled and rusty. By 2003 it was only 35% complete and I was running out of money, especial since retiring in June 2003. I made many a trip to Lithuania looking for sponsors.
In 2005, sold the airplane in “as is condition” to a collector in Canada. He finished the airplane and it won awards in the 2016 Oshkosh. My dream appeared to end. In 2019, when I received a call from Lithuania. A group of aviation buffs liked my plan on completing the trip of the Lituanica. To make a long story short, I steered them to the owner who ended selling it to the group. It was dismantled and shipped to Lithuania. Over the last year it has been reassembled and is flying.
I have been invited over to plan the “Flight of Completion” for next year which will be the 90th anniversary. While there, I plan on flying it around the land of my birth. Then I can say” I completed my dream bucket list” Next year I plan to do the flight……100 anniversary in 2033… probably …Not….
While on this trip, will give updates. Thanks for reading………The vagabond…….. call sign Jaybird