Vicksburg men toting state banner to Kitty Hawk

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 20, 2003

John Paris, left, and Dan Fordice are part of a team of local pilots who will deliver a Mississippi flag to Kitty Hawk, N.C., this week as part of the 100th Anniversary of Flights Celebration, observing the first flight by the Wright Brothers. (Jenny Sevcik The Vicksburg Post)

[10/20/03]MOUND Two Vicksburg men are always looking for a reason to fly.

And helping deliver the Mississippi flag to Kitty Hawk, N.C., for celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first flight provides the perfect excuse.

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John Paris and Dan Fordice, along with Johnny Smith of Tupelo, will deliver the flag to the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk.

Smith was chosen to fly the flag to the memorial by The Experimental Aviation Association, which is sponsoring the initiative, called “50 Flags to Kitty Hawk” along with the National Park Service. Paris and Fordice will accompany him Saturday.

A pilot from each state has been chosen to deliver a flag and nearly all 50 states have done so.

Though the Vicksburg pair are excited about the trip they understand it’s a big deal the actual flight will be another day in the park literally.

They’ve flown together to Dallas, Oshkosh, Wis., and Talladega, Ala.

When asked how often they fly, Fordice answers, “Not nearly enough,” and Paris answers, “As much as our wives will let us.”

“Flying is more of a disease than an occupation,” Fordice said. “Once you get into it, you’re in trouble.”

Paris, 41, started flying when he was 17 and went on to graduate from Louisiana Tech with a degree in professional aviation. He was a crop duster for seven years and is now an accountant with May and Company.

Fordice, 43, said he’s been around planes his entire life and got his license to fly when he was in college in the 1980s.

Paris zips around the skies above Vicksburg in an RV-8 and get this he built it himself.

“This is delivered as a kit and you assemble it yourself,” he said nonchalantly.

Fordice flies a WACO Classic.

It will take Paris about five hours to get to the Outer Banks, and Fordice 10.

The “50 Flags to Kitty Hawk” event is one of several organized to honor the first flight by Wilbur and Orville Wright, two brothers who were bicycle mechanics. That flight was on Dec. 17, 1903, and celebrations are also scheduled for that day, including the flight of a replica of the Wrights’ plane.