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Former Nyacker to Fly Plane Across 48 States

Nyack High School graduate Meredith Tcherniavsky and her husband Dana Holladay will fly around the country this summer

One of Meredith Tcherniavsky’s favorite things about her 74-year-old piper cub airplane is how wide the door opens.

"When you're in the air and someone else is flying, you can get these amazing aerial photos," she said. "[The plane] also flies low and slow, and gives you a really nice view of the countryside."

That will give the two plenty of chances to photograph the United States—this summer, the two plan on completing a plane trip that soars over every state in the continental US.

"This trip has been kind of a dream of ours," Holladay said. "Meredith and I both dreamed about flying a small plane around the country before we even met three years ago. We talked about it and bought a piper cub built in 1938. It's been restored since then. We started planning out the trip in January and we're just about to get going."

They started their trip last Sunday, and their first destination was the Westchester County Airport in White Plains, where they left the plane for a few days so they could visit Tcherniavsky’s family.

Tcherniavsky grew up in Rockland and graduated from ; she still has family in Congers and New City. They’ll stay in Rockland for a few days and take off to continue their trip on July 4.

"Some places we’ll just travel through," Tcherniavsky said. "Most days we’ll be flying a little bit at least, and some places we’ll stop for a few days. We’re going to spend a couple of days in Chicago because we have a lot of friends there.

The longest planned stay in one area is in Wisconsin, home of AirVenture, one of the country’s largest gatherings of aviation enthusiasts. This year is the 75th anniversary of the cub plane, so Tcherniavsky and Holland want to arrive there July 21 as part of a large amassing of cub planes.

The couple's general plan is to go counterclockwise and take about eight or nine weeks for the trip, arriving back in Maryland possibly a few days before Labor Day.

Holland has been flying since 1988 and Tcherniavsky has been around planes her whole life—and has been a pilot for 10 years.

"My father took his flying lessons at Westchester County Airport," she said. "I remember as a kid sit ting around and watching my dad take lessons. This is a pretty cool homecoming for me."

They are also both instructors, giving flying lessons at Montgomery County Airport in North Carolina, and Tcherniavsky said it's been her primary employment for the past seven years or so. Holladay too was an instructor, but it was a bit difficult to find enough work doing just that, he said. So on the side, Holladay worked maintenance and construction for a few restaurants.

Holladay had to quit his job to go on their trip. He doesn’t have anything planned for when they return, but that’s not his primary focus right now, he explained.

"I’ll start looking and find something when we get back," he said. "This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, it’s been a dream of mine. You don’t have to be wealthy to chase your dreams. We’re be no means wealthy, but we’ve managed to put this thing together and make it happen. If you have a dream, pursue it. Live life to the fullest and don’t let obstacles get in the way."

Tcherniavsky said while they’ve talked about it before, this year they really started plotting out the route, and they also have a bunch of information on different airports throughout the country they could possibly stop in if the plan changes. There are also a few apps with that kind of information as well, Tcherniavsky added.

"We’ve also had people reach out to us and offer their home to us if we’re near them or give us advice on where to fly to," Tcherniavsky said. "And they’re not people we know—they’re just people who heard about what we’re doing and wanted to help out."

One such helpful group was Panorama Flight Service, out of Westchester County Airport, which donated hanger space and some fuel for the trip, Holland said.

Part of the reason why the trip will take so long is because Tcherniavsky and Holland will only be flying an hour or two each day they take to the sky. Tcherniavsky said the plane can get uncomfortable flying it longer than that, and they’ll mostly likely head out earlier in the day when it’s a bit cooler and nicer to fly, weather permitting of course.

Some bigger states, like Texas or California, will take multiple days to fly through. Those interested can follow along on their site—holladayaviation.com —where there is the planned route, and once the trip gets going, they will post updates and pictures from throughout their journey. They also plan on writing a book about the trip once it’s over.

Tcherniavsky said she thinks people will be interesting in following along because nearly everyone she knows is interested in flying or has had dreams of flying.

"There’s a draw to flying airplanes that I can’t explain," she said. "It’s not unlike any passion, like horseback riding or boating or photography. The big difference, I guess, is our passion has a good view from above."

Marianne Olive July 04, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Good luck to you both. I've been a pilot for 40 years and continue to fly small planes. This is a dream of mine so I'm anxious to follow your route and story of flight. If you need a place to stay, please don't hesitate to email me.

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