BGSU invites community to celebrate successful world-record attempt by alumni pilots to land in 48 states in 48 hours

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – The community is invited to celebrate the successful world-record attempt of two Bowling Green State University alumni pilots to land in 48 states in 48 hours at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 10, at the Bowling Green Flight Center.

During Saturday's celebration, pilot Barry Behnfeldt ’83 and co-pilot Aaron Wilson ’04 will share details about their 44 hours and 16 minutes cross-country journey and will answer questions. Participants will also be able to take photos with the plane the pair flew across the country. 

In pursuit of a world record and to raise awareness about the critical need for skilled pilots, Behnfeldt and Wilson landed at the Portland International Jetport in Portland, Maine, at 6:42 p.m. on June 6 to a group of locals who celebrated the pair’s remarkable achievement.

The pair executed their meticulously planned 5,008-mile trek across the U.S. nearly four hours ahead of their original goal of 48 hours, experiencing near-perfect conditions throughout the entire two days. They called their journey 48N48.

Behnfeldt and Wilson chronicled their 48-state journey on Facebook, with regular updates on the weather, picturesque views from the sky and the latest on their schedule. They amassed a loyal following of fans and aviation enthusiasts, who shared encouraging messages online and gathered at airports to celebrate their arrival.

The pair received signatures at each stop to verify their presence. Those signatures and additional documentation will be reviewed by officials at Guinness World Records before Behnfeldt and Wilson officially are deemed world-record holders.

Inspiring the next generation

Although the initial goal was to set a world record, Behnfeldt and Wilson said the experience evolved into something more meaningful.

“We began this quest to set a Guinness World Record, but everything that has occurred throughout this experience is far above holding a world record,” Behnfeldt said.

Wilson agreed and said arriving to excited groups of children cheering them on provided the motivation they needed to continue toward their goal.

“It was really moving and not something we expected,” he said. “There were crowds of people waiting to see us pull in, waving and cheering for us. I saw myself in those kids. I remember how excited I was when I saw an airplane as a kid.

“I think we inspired some people to look into taking lessons at their local airport or even enroll in a university aviation program like BGSU.”

As home to the largest aviation program in Ohio, BGSU is committed to meeting workforce demands in the aviation industry through partnershipsexpanded facilities and modernization of its fleet. The University also recently approved the creation of a School of Aviation in the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering (CTAAE).

Leading up to and during the world-record attempt, the crew raised awareness and funds for a nonprofit organization called Veterans Airlift Command, which provides private air transportation to combat-wounded veterans. Behnfeldt said he expects donations to reach $25,000.

Updated: 06/09/2023 11:34AM