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Sun, Jul 27, 2008

Sonex Pilot Touches Down In All 48 Continental US States

Thought To Be First-Ever Sport Pilot To Accomplish Feat

Over the course of three summers, Phil Simons accomplished a feat most other pilots may only dream of... and, he may have done in it in a way never tried before. On July 21, 2008 Simon landed at the Cecil County Airport in Maryland, marking the 48th state in which Simon has landed in his AeroVee powered, tricycle-gear Sonex experimental airplane.

Notably, Simon landed in all of the lower-48 United States while operating as a Sport Pilot, being perhaps the first to complete this journey under the new regulations in a fixed-wing light sport aircraft.

Simon tackled his achievement by flying three separate cross-country trips over the span of three summers. His first trip in August of 2006 covered 10 states. The second trip in September and October of 2007 covered 32 states, and completion of the 48-state tour came in the recently completed 12- state, 11-day trip. (A full account of all three stages of Simon's journey can be found on Sonex's "Flying Stories" web site, at the first FMI link below.)

"Flying to all the lower 48 states has been something I have wanted to do for a long time," said Simon. "I spent 32 years looking down at the country side from 35,000' and when I retired I decided that I wanted to see it from 1,000' AGL. My Sonex is the perfect aircraft to do this -- I only burn 4 GPH and the visibility is great. I have a wing leveler installed and engage it and look outside at the sights. It is a fairly large undertaking to fly to all the lower 48 states. It certainly can be done more efficiently than the way I did it in three flights. In my case I did in a flight of 2,100 miles + 6,800 miles + 5,200 miles for a total of 14,100 miles, and around 28 days of flying. It requires a lot of pre-planning and a lot of charts. I think it would have been almost impossible without GPS, at least the way I flew cutting between and under various airspaces. All in all, it turned out to be a real adventure and a most enjoyable undertaking."

"Sonex Aircraft congratulates Phil on this outstanding achievement," said Sonex CEO and General Manager Jeremy Monnett. "Phil and building partner Jerry have been great ambassadors for the Sonex, proving that it is a practical cross-country flying machine and showing what kind of great accomplishments can be yours if you put your mind to it. Phil and Jerry embody what the grass-roots growth of the Sonex is all about. We look forward to hearing about many more flight adventures from the rapidly growing fleet of Sonex Aircraft."

Based in San Rafael, CA, Simon is a retired ATP-rated airline captain with 32 years of airline service and experience flying from the left-seats of B-737, B-757, B-767 and B-777 aircraft. Since retirement, Simon let his medical certificate expire and is now operating as a Sport Pilot. Simon and build partner Jerry Bassler completed Sonex serial number 492, achieving first flight of the aircraft in February of 2006.

"Our Sonex is the perfect airplane," writes Simon. "Lots of fun to do basic aerobatics in (loops and rolls) and enjoyable to fly cross country in. The little AeroVee engine is bullet proof... Building the Sonex and the AeroVee were two of the most rewarding things I have ever done."

Simon arrived at Sonex's facilities on Wittman Regional Airport last week, in preparation to have his aircraft featured in the EAA Affordable Flying Center during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008. Simon will also give two forum presentations in the Affordable Flying Center, four times throughout the week of AirVenture: "Flying to All Lower 48 States in a $30,000, 700 lb. Sonex" to be held Monday, July 28th at 10:00 am, and again on Wednesday, July 30 at 1:00 pm; "How I built my Sonex for only $15,000 (is an airplane partnership right for you?)" to be held Tuesday, July 29 at 11:30 am, and again on Thursday, July 31 at 10:00 am.

FMI: www.sonexaircraft.com/press/flyingstories.html, www.airventure.org

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