Money To Support Brain Tumor Research
Pilot Brian Kissinger of
O'Fallon, IL is in the process of restoring a World War II-era
aircraft for a barnstorming trip to raise money for brain tumor
research -- a subject the 39-year-old man is intimately familiar
Several years ago, doctors located a cancerous tumor the size of
a baseball in his brain -- it was questionable whether he would
even survive. Not only did he survive, Kissinger is now healthy and
planning to barnstorm the country in a World War II scout plane to
raise money and awareness for those suffering from brain
Plans are for a June 1 take off in his 1942 Piper L4 Grasshopper
from St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, and spending about
three weeks flying around the country. In doing so, he hopes to
raise $100,000 for the National Brain Tumor Association.
Dubbed Brain's Flight -- after Kissinger's nickname -- his
eventual goal is to raise $1 million for the group, according to
the Associated Press. Kissinger got the unusual nickname while
serving as a major in the USAF. Stationed in Okinawa, everyone in
his outfit received a monogrammed hat. But, Brian's hat said
"Brain" and naturally, it stuck.
Kissinger spends most of his Saturdays at Hunter Field in
Sparta, restoring his Grasshopper. He found the damaged plane in a
hangar in the early stages of renovation. He bought a share of the
plane along with Marvin Campbell, the owner/operator of the
"It needs a lot more work," Kissinger said.
The Grasshopper is the military version of the original Piper
Cub. It was used for, among other things, artillery spotting and
reconnaissance during World War II. This particular aircraft is
believed to have been stationed in Oklahoma during WWII and was
then used by the Civil Air Patrol.
The marathon runner was playing tennis in 2003 when he collapsed
and was diagnosed with a cancerous oligodendroglioma. He is now in
remission after surgery and 20 months of chemotherapy... and
Kissinger is determined to help others with similar diagnoses.
Original plans had Kissinger
in the air by now, but as aircraft restoration is a rather exact
science, it's far more important to be correct than quick.
"There are a couple more things on the airplane that have to be
perfect," Kissinger said. "An inspector came by the other day and
gave me more items."
He has a route mapped out that includes stops all around the
country -- his main goal is to raise as much awareness for the
cause as possible.
"I want to cover as much territory as I can," Kissinger said.
"When people found out about this, they sent me invitations to stop
at different places. I'm planning on visiting the Tri-State
Warbirds Museum in Ohio, and of course, Kitty Hawk, and Florida,
where I grew up."
"A lot of people have been helping out," he added. "I couldn't
do it by myself."