Norman Schwartz, a 66-year-old pilot, has volunteered to fly his plane to New York City on Sept. 8 to represent Hawaii as part of a Sept. 11 commemoration ceremony, "Flight Across America."

Pilot volunteers
to ferry Hawaii flag
to New York

All 50 states will give banners
to the families of Sept. 11 victims

By Genevieve A. Suzuki

Norman Schwartz expects to see a bittersweet sight when he flies his Cessna 340 plane to New York City on Sept. 8 as part of a nationwide pilots group's Sept. 11 commemoration ceremony.

"I recall the skyline before the World Trade Center, and sadly I will see it that way again," he said.

Schwartz, a 66-year-old pilot from Los Angeles, and his daughter-in-law, former isle resident Maria Lippi Schwartz, are flying to New York next month to represent Hawaii in the "Flight Across America" ceremony. The commemoration is being organized by pilots nationwide in part to help restore public confidence in aviation.

Pilots representing all 50 states are flying to New York to present the state flags to families of the victims of the World Trade Center attacks. The ceremony will be held aboard the USS Intrepid, a retired aircraft carrier that is now home to the Sea-Air-Space Museum in Manhattan.

Norman Schwartz said he and his daughter-in-law -- a Punahou School graduate who lives in North Carolina with her husband, Ted, and their four children -- volunteered to be the Hawaii representatives when no one else stepped up.

He is using the same twin-engine plane that he used for his around-the-world and North Pole trips.

"Although the other trips were more tiring, for emotions, certainly, the New York flight ranks around the top," said Schwartz, who was born and raised in Brooklyn. "It does have that meaning of returning to my home in New York."

The Hawaii flag intended for the presentation has flown above the state Capitol, said Virginia Lippi, Maria's mother. Before it leaves for New York, it will also have flown at the Arizona Memorial.

Virginia and Robert Lippi are accepting the flag in Hawaii for their daughter today at an early-morning ceremony aboard the Arizona Memorial. "We were very proud to be the flag bearers from Hawaii," Virginia said.

Brig. Gen. Myron Duboshi from the Hawaii Air National Guard is representing Gov. Ben Cayetano at the ceremony. Duboshi will give the flag to the Lippis, who will then take it to an American Airlines pilot on Aug. 27. The flag will accompany the pilot to Los Angeles, where Norman Schwartz will pick it up.

Schwartz will then fly the flag to Raleigh, N.C., where he will pick up Maria, Ted and their newborn, Caroline. Maria and Ted's three older children are staying with neighbors while their parents are away.

Before flying to New York, the Schwartzes are stopping for ceremonies in Somerset County, Pa., where United Flight 93 crashed, and Frederick, Md., to honor the victims of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.

Participating in the flag ceremony means a lot to Maria, said her mother. "She's absolutely thrilled to be representing Hawaii."

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