Doing it Wright


Doing it Wright

On December 17, 2003, the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight, three Michigan men made general aviation history setting a U.S. National and World Record.  William S. Demray, Clark O. Putman and John R. Townsley took off from Monroe, Michigan’s Custer Airport and crossed a fix near Kitty Hawk at 01:05 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). They concluded the adventure in Key West, Florida. This is the one and only record set over Kitty Hawk on this celebrated date.  Demray, a resident of Northville, Michigan, was Pilot in Command; Townsley of Utica, Michigan acted as co-pilot; Putman from Warren, Michigan served as flight engineer.  They embarked on the journey to honor the great strides in aviation and in celebration of friendship. The accomplishments of the Wright Brothers inspired their lives as it enriched the lives of all mankind. Their record is dedicated to the hopes that general aviation will prosper as a catalyst for three-dimensional transportation available to all.

In total, this team of aviation comrades has more than 130 years of experience, 20,000 flight hours and a myriad of record setting achievements. Their dedication and experience brought success to the mission.  “The weather was questionable,” recounts Demray. “The flight was slow and wobbly, not unlike that of the Wright Flyer in 1903.” The expertise of flight engineer, Clark O. (Put) Putman set the course for a safe ride into the record books.  Demray adds, “It was truly my privilege to have "Put" assist on the record attempt. Had he crewed for the official ceremonies, the Wright Experience replica would have flown, but our record may not have happened.  I’m grateful for his participation and share with him the honor this record brings.”

The concluding leg of the record was set on December 20, 2003 originating in Key West with touch down at Detroit City Airport.  The return was especially symbolic to Flight Engineer Putman, whose aviation career began at Detroit City Airport in 1947.

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About the Aircraft
The aircraft used for this record setting flight is a 1969 Piper PA 30-C Twin Comanche. It was shipped to Italy new and remained there until 1994 when William S. Demray took ownership.  With the help of Clark O. Putman as project chief and Charles Cooper (Co-Owner of Beacon Aviation in Mason, Michigan) responsible for avionics, Demray completely refurbished the aircraft to the spectacular machine it is today.

About the Team

William S. Demray, D.D.S. (Pilot in Command) is a resident of Northville, Michigan where he has practiced general dentistry for more than 30 years.  Demray is a private pilot (since 1980) with 3,000 hours of flying time – ASEL, ASES, AMEL, Private, Instrument Rated.  His first solo flight was in 1979. Dr. Demray is the owner of a Piper Comanche and a Twin Piper Comanche. He holds several aviation commendations, which include:  NAA recognized United States National Record and FAI recognized World Record from Detroit to Seattle (1995); EAA Airventure Oshkosh Contemporary Class Winner (1999); and EAA Sun ‘N’ Fun Contemporary Class Winner (2000).

Clark O. Putman (Flight Engineer) is a resident of Warren, Michigan.  Putman, known as “Put” in aviation circles, served as Flight Engineer for the record attempts. Putman is a master mechanic, certified as an Airframe and Power Plant (A & P) mechanic and is an FAA Authorized Inspector (IA). He has more than 50-years of expertise as a master aviation mechanic. “Put” previously served as flight engineer on 24 other NAA and FAI records in a Piper Aztec. Among them – Detroit to Spitzbergen, Fiji to Pago Pago, Pago Pago to Tahiti, Tahiti to Easter Island, Easter island to Lima, Lima to Detroit, Cairo to Bahrain, Gander to Lisbon, Guadal Canal to Sydney, Kushiro to Anchorage, Madras to Singapore, Singapore to Manila, Resolute Bay to the North Pole and around the world. In addition to this prestigious list of aviation world records, Mr. Putman was awarded the FAA Aviation Mechanic Citation for improving maintenance practices in 1974, and he received the FAA Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award in 1996.  He has been honored with several nominations as Aviation Elder Statesman.  “Put” continues to maintain private aircraft for a prestigious list of clientele. His dedication to mechanical perfection is personified by his motto, “If it’s not right, it’s wrong”.

James R. Townsley (Co-Pilot) of Utica MI is President of General Steel (Sterling Heights, MI).  He is the owner of a Cessna T-182 and has flown 9,000 hours since 1950 as a private pilot.  Townsley has ASEL, ASES, Private Instrumented Rated qualifications.