By DJ Doran
These last few weeks have been a whirlwind, as I have been working with our new Director of Public Relations, Steve Smith, and our Graphic Design Guru, Matt Muchmore, to get our marketing and public relations plan developed, in place, and ready for launch during the first week of June.
The looming departure date of the spring of 2018, although almost two years away, creeps closer and closer with every passing day, and the sheer scope of this crazy endeavor continues to reveal itself to me on a daily basis.
Though I am happy with the pace and progress that we are making I am constantly reminded that what I thought would be plenty of time for all of the components to come together sometimes weighs heavy on me as I realize all that needs to be done.
The biggest challenge that I face is getting the word out about PrideFlight2018.
A project such as this has never been attempted before, and the first phase is to complete the acquisition of the plane and have it flown to a location in Wisconsin to begin the refitting process. The engines will have to be overhauled and the flight instruments upgraded and a host of other improvements and modifications made to prepare it for the arduous around the world flight.
During the first week of June, we will be launching a major marketing campaign to make our community aware of PrideFlight2018 and to seek their support to help us take this project from concept to reality.
We will issue a press release to over 600 LGBT organizations worldwide outlining the details of the mission. Additionally, by the time you are reading this we will have announced our partnership with the local and iconic Indianapolis LGBT organization, The Bag Ladies. We will be working with the Bag Ladies organization to promote and raise money for this project with 10 percent of every dollar raised donated back to The Bag Ladies. We will also be announcing that we have named the airplane, “Bag Lady,” and the nose art will be of none other than the very first Bag Lady Queen, Blossom.
“Bag Lady” will fly around the world, spreading goodwill and supporting LGBT communities, groups and organizations worldwide. Wherever we go, wherever we land, “Bag Lady” will reflect the positive message of hope for the future, especially for those in the LGBTQ community that may feel invisible or powerless.
I know that there are plenty of people out there who may think that this project is crazy or unobtainable, and to them I say, “I hear you.”
However, if I let the fear of failure overpower my desire to try, then one thing is for certain, I will surely fail. Honestly, I don’t know if I will be successful in pulling all of this together and make this flight a reality and, quite frankly, I also know that the odds are stacked heavily against me to be successful. But, that will not deter me.
PrideFlight2018 is more than one person’s dream, and to make it happen it’s going to take the support of the global LGBTQ community. I have confidence that once enough people know about PrideFlight2018, that they will support the mission, cheer for us as we fly, and revel in each successful leg until we safely return home.
I have begun the process of refreshing my pilot’s certifications for instrument flying and will begin flying with an instructor to re-certify my multi/complex endorsement to be ready for getting a type rating for the DC3. These are the first steps that I need to take in order to be able to pilot the DC3 and then acquire the required number of hours needed to become the PIC (Pilot in Command). I am looking forward to getting back in the air on a regular basis – so look for future updates in The Word, and posted to our social media, that involve photos from my training while flying in and around Indy.
Once I get all of the re-certifications out of the way I will be able to focus on getting my type rating for the DC3.
Flying the DC3 around the world is not what many of you may think. It is not a comfy jet with plush seats and a bar; it is a working aircraft with minimalist amenities. It was used as a troop and cargo transport during World War II.
Though later configured as a passenger airliner, “Bag Lady” will be outfitted as a working cargo plane with few seats for passengers. The flight will be tough on the plane and on the crew, and will test the endurance of both during every leg of the flight.
The DC3 is a hearty aircraft and with a 95-foot wingspan and tried-and-true airframe. I am confident that she will be able to withstand the rigors of the flight.
There are some distinct differences in flying this vintage aircraft, such as the fact that it is a “tail dragger.” This means that the plane sits on its tail with a small wheel located underneath. This gives the DC3 the appearance of having its nose pointed upward when resting on the tarmac.
It also requires the pilot to have the skills during takeoff and landing that are unique to these types of aircraft. For example, during takeoff, and as the wings begin to gain the necessary lift, the pilot pushes the yoke forward instead of backward, as would normally be the case, in order to level the plane as it gains airspeed and the tail wheel lifts off the runway as the aircraft begins to fly.
The same is true for landing: The yoke is pushed forward once the main gear touches down and the pilot “flies” the tail wheel until it gently begins to settle onto the runway and the plane rolls to a stop – hopefully with little braking required if it is done right.
There is a lot of training that I and the crew will be required to complete prior to flying this mission, and I am looking forward to getting it done as quickly as possible.
This flight will require us to fly across vast stretches of ocean and through and around some treacherous terrain – while landing in countries that are not exactly hospitable to LGBTQ individuals – and it will test our personal endurance. Because the plane is not pressurized, we will fly at or below 10,000 feet and, by today’s standards, very slow making us an easy target as we fly through hostile airspace and around obstacles such as mountains.
At the beginning of June, as we launch a campaign to introduce PerideFlight2018 to the world and seek support to make this project happen, we have also negotiated with hundreds of LGBT websites to place banner ads encouraging people to click and learn more about PrideFlight2018. We’ll give them an opportunity to support us by linking them to our Kickstarter page and website.
The project will be funded in three phases and from multiple sources. There will be multiple pathways to funding through corporate sponsorships, individual fundraising, crowd funding and an online store selling logo wear. The first phase of funding will be for the acquisition of the plane and its transport to the refitting airport in Wisconsin. The second phase of funding will be for mission planning, training and the purchase of equipment. And the third and final phase of funding will be for the actual mission (fuel, supplies, parts, etc.).
Without the help of individuals like each of you reading this article who believe in what we are attempting to do, there will be no flight.
I am asking you for your support by liking our page, www.facebook.com/PrideFlight2018, subscribing to my blog “From the Flight Deck,” and by going to our website www.prideflight2018.com and finding our web links to our Kickstarter page to learn more about this extraordinary project.