« Back

Airline Ride Across America Sets Out from L.A. to D.C.

Press Release - Sunday, April 2, 2006

Pentagon Memorial Fund, Inc.

It's literally been an uphill ride since the Airline Ride Across America team left Los Angeles on April 2 and began their climb toward and across the continental divide.  And it hasn't been easy.  "Once over [the divide] you do not go downhill," Captain Tom Heidenberger notes in his daily blog about the trip.  "More fun facts: the trucks on the interstate [create enough air pressure] to knock a bike over."  No need to wonder how he found that out!

Heidenberger, who lost his wife, Michele, when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, is biking across country with other airline pilots, friends, and supporters. The group is dedicating each week to one of the four fateful flights and to all those who died in the September 11 attacks. Each of the trip’s 33 days will be dedicated to one of the 33 flight crewmembers who or lost their lives that day.

The first day of Airline Ride Across America was dedicated to Captain Charles “Chic” Burlingame, who piloted American Airlines Flight 77. Captain Burlingame’s widow, former flight attendant Sheri Burlingame, is piloting the RV that accompanies the bikers across country. Here’s how they spent her birthday:

“Apr. 8. We celebrated Sheri’s birthday, as we met at the RV bright and early (5:45)…. Since leaving Phoenix, the past two days [we] have been [biking] into a constant headwind! The start today? Ugly. It was the RV’s turn to have a flat.”

Airline Ride Across America hopes to raise $100,000 each for the Pentagon Memorial, the World Trade Center Memorial, and the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania. Log on to join up for the “downhill” part of the ride, find out how the trip is progressing, buy a commemorative racing jersey, and make a contribution. 

The next big—scheduled—event for the Airline Ride team is a loop ride around the American airline complex in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas on April 14. Then it’s off to memorial sites in Pennsylvania, New York City, and finally the Pentagon, with an ETA of May 8.

There’s still about 2,000 miles to go.   Despite flat tires, flipped bikes, headwinds, and uphill climbs, the Airline Ride team is in good spirits, buoyed by the support they’ve received along the way and the memory of those for whom they are riding.