1st flight across Lake Michigan recreated 100 years later - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

1st flight across Lake Michigan recreated 100 years later


100 years ago, a legendary pilot made the first ever trek across Lake Michigan by plane. Monday, his grand-daughter took the same flight in his memory.

Faith Vilas is a third generation pilot. "I knew I wanted to be a pilot when I was a kid, I knew I wanted to fly when I was like 5 or 6."

Now at 61 she is honoring her legendary grandfather Logan Vilas. "Essentially it was something he really wanted to accomplish."

She says the trip was more dangerous for her grandfather in 1913. Consider this, Vilas flew across the lake, 14 years BEFORE Charles Lindbergh made the first flight across the Atlantic Ocean. "This is a long distance over open water, that's not something that's encouraged for a small plane. He liked to test limits of things and enjoyed that. I think the difference between him being 21 doing this and me being 61 makes it a little less like I want to tempt fate."

Which is why she says preparations have taken months, but Monday morning she was ready to take the Cessna 185 from Southwest Michigan Regional Airport in Benton Harbor to Navy Pier in Chicago. She says her grandfather would have encouraged her to make this flight, just like he encouraged her to pursue a pilot's license at age 17. "I grew up thinking why shouldn't I fly? I never grew up thinking it was unusual to become a pilot."

She says he inspired her to take risks. "I love to fly, I understand why he liked it, I understand the interest and adventure for him."

And Monday she says was all about him.

FOX28 called Faith after she touched down in Chicago. She was able to land the amphibious plane in the water by Navy Pier. "I am so glad to complete this journey successfully on the 100th anniversary of my grandfather's landing – at that time, the longest flight over water in aviation history," Vilas said. "This is the culmination of years of work on the part of admirers of his accomplishment, and it is great to complete this effort on behalf of family and friends, and especially in honor of my grandfather." She says it took her just under an hour to get there.

What's her next stop? It just might be a trip to space as part of the Planetary Science Institute's suborbital observatory project.

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