Gordon Murray is a journalism professor and pilot. He was trained as an educational psychologist and spent much of his academic and professional careers working in television as a director, writer, videographer and editor. His research, interests and assignments have taken him to South Africa, Cuba and Antarctica. Documentaries Murray produced in the U.S., Europe, and Middle East have been recognized with numerous industry awards. He grew up in Ohio and is often found flying old airplanes into grass airfields and farms around the Midwest, mostly looking for a free lunch and homemade pie.
Murray was joined on the "Lost in Oscar Hotel" adventure by pilot Ron Siwik. Siwik is a former military flight surgeon who served in Vietnam. In 2008, Siwik piloted a Beechcraft Bonanza solo around the world.
Murray and Siwik's flight together celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Piper J3 Cub—an airplane that taught nearly a half million WWII veterans to fly. No one had ever attempted it before. Ohio has 88 counties, spread across nearly 44,885 square miles.
The two pilots flew from sunrise to sunset, spending 36 hours and six minutes in the air. They traced a 1,809 nautical mile route that covered all of Ohio, often flying low and slow enough to shout a greeting to farmers waving from fields below. To the astonishment of the pilots, scores came out to greet them at airfields and farms all over the state and nearly 50,000 people tracked the flight online. Stories of the flight were reported in local, regional and national newspapers and magazines, and on television and radio.
People gathered at the airfields and socialized, made ice cream, told stories and looked at airplanes. They were curious to find out more about the hidden world of aviation, and they wanted to be part of the adventure. Everybody brought a camera and asked, “Where can I get a t-shirt?” and, “When is the book coming out?”
Airports offered meals and fuel to help keep the pilots and Cubs going. The pilots signed autographs. Farmers, friends and strangers pressed wrinkled dollars into palms and shirt pockets for a scholarship fund. For a short while, Murray and Siwik, along with photographers Gary Harwood, Laura Fong, Phil Botta, and Sam Verbulecz all unwittingly became the good will ambassadors of flight—honoring the legacy of the Wrights in the Birthplace of Aviation.