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Heavy Storms Delay 10-Year-Old Pilot

July 22, 1987

Severe thunderstorms in the Southeast caused 10-year-old Christopher Lee Marshall to reroute his single-engine Piper Warrior plane to a safe landing Tuesday afternoon in Meridian, Miss.

The red-haired fourth-grader, who had hoped to land in Montgomery, Ala., is about 500 miles short of the turn-around point in his quest to become the youngest person ever to fly across the United States and back. He began his flight on Saturday in Oceano, near San Luis Obispo.

"I thought the storms were a lot of fun," Christopher said. "I wanted to keep on going, but my instructor told me I should land the plane before we get hurt. I'm doing just great. I'm not tired at all and we're still on schedule."

The youth, who is 4-feet, 11-inches tall, would set a record as the youngest pilot to fly coast to coast if, as planned, he lands in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Wednesday.

An 11-year-old Texan, John Kevin Hill, flew earlier this month from Los Angeles to Washington to set the record. Christopher's father, Delta airline pilot Lee Marshall, saw news reports of John's record-setting flight and got the idea for his son's adventure. He is paying the $15,000.

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