Oklahoma pilot lands in Russia

Monday, October 2nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Bad weather has forced a pilot from Norman to land in Russia in his attempt to set the record for around-the-world flight in an open cockpit plane.

Pilot Robert Ragozzino and his 1942 Stearman biplane had been waiting for a weather window to fly nearly 1,350 nautical miles -- the aircraft's maximum range -- from Kushiro, Japan, to Shemya Air Force Base in Alaska's Aleutian Islands.

He landed in Kushiro Sept. 11, but was repeatedly denied permission into the Russian island of Petropovlaska.

"Due to winds at sea, I made a safety fuel diversion into Russia. Obtaining the necessary departure permit will be difficult at best," Ragozzino said in an e-mail to The Norman Transcript.

The flight from Kushiro to Petropovlaska was approximately 800 miles, significantly shorter than the 1,350-mile route to Shemya.

Ragozzino is trying to become the first person to fly around the world solo in an open-cockpit biplane. He left Oklahoma City on June 1.