Originally published 5 April 2001


Gets An Unexpected Visitor

Last updated: 11/17/2016 06:03
Attu Island, Alaska, Oct. 24, -- LORAN Station Attu, located on the westernmost point of the United States, had an unexpected visitor fly in from Petroprovalask, Russia. The remote LORAN transmitting Station received a telephone call from the FAA in Anchorage, AK, relaying a message that a WWII vintage single-engine Stearman bi-plane needed a place to land after a six hour flight from Russia. Due to high winds and low visibility, the pilot had to divert to Attu from his original flight plan, Earakson AFB, located on Shemya Island. The crew of LORAN Sta Attu set flight quarters and awaited the arrival of this unexpected and unusual visitor. Like a vision out of the past, the vintage WWII bi-plane appeared through the heavy sleet and touched down on Attu's runway. Robert Ragozonni, the pilot of the Stearman bi-plane, is attempting an around-the-world solo flight in an open cockpit aircraft, trying to break a record that has stood for over 70 years. In 1924, four open cockpit bi-planes of the U.S. Army Air Corps took off from the United States in an attempt to fly around the world. On May 9,1924, three of the four planes, the Chicago, Boston, and New Orleans, had made it as far as Attu Island. They landed in Chichagof Harbor, where they spent six days before continuing their flight. Only one of the four aircraft completed the around-the-world trip. If Ragozonni can complete his trip in under 172 days, he will beat the record that has stood for over seven decades. LORAN Sta Attu's crew was there to welcome Mr. Ragozonni back to the United States, from which he had departed from Oklahoma City, OK over 130 days ago. The crew enjoyed his visit and the stories of his adventures around the world. Ragozonni departed Attu Island on October 25, heading for Shemya Island and beginning the last leg of his long trip around the world. [Photo is of a U. S. Coastguard C-130 and the Stearman biplane.]