Man finishes most dangerous leg of trip

Tuesday, June 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A Norman pilot seeking to fly around the world in a biplane has the most dangerous leg of his trip behind him.

Robert Ragozzino made it across the Atlantic Ocean on Monday, flying more than 700 miles from Newfoundland to the southern tip of Greenland.

"It's unbelievable. Just beautiful," Ragozzino said from his hotel room in Narsarsuaq, Greenland.

"You're out there 2,000 feet over the ocean, just you and your 60-year-old plane. You just have to have a lot of faith in it. ...Then you start to see icebergs and the mountains off the coast.T hat is a feeling of elation."

He landed with no visible damage to his Stearman biplane, an airport manager said.

Ragozzino flew most of the way about 300 feet above the calm ocean, taking only a few trips close to the water.

On the way to the hotel, Ragozzino noticed a hillside bunker marked "1942," and asked what it was since it was the year his airplane was built.

The man told him it was "a temporary morgue for the town 'where we take dead pilots.' No joking," Ragozzino said. "It was classic."

He planned to depart Tuesday for a flight of about 600 miles up the eastern coast of Greenland. He flies to Reykjavik, Iceland, on Wednesday.

Ragozzino has a little more than 21,000 miles to go in his 23,200-mile trip through Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He is trying to become the first person to fly around the world solo in an open-cockpit biplane.