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Schoolchildren Greet Pilot, 11, in Leningrad

June 24, 1989|MASHA HAMILTON | Times Staff Writer

LENINGRAD, Soviet Union — Tony Aliengena, 11, landed in Leningrad on Friday in his around-the-world flight to the greetings of schoolchildren who crowded around to give him flowers and welcome him to the "land of the Soviets."

"The flight was short and easy, and it's great to be here," the boy from San Juan Capistrano said as he stepped out of his Cessna 210 Centurion after the hour and 40 minute flight from Helsinki, Finland.

Tanya Barabash, also 11, gave Tony a loaf of brown bread and a cup of salt--the traditional Russian welcome--and then recited a poem in Russian that she had written.

"I want peace all over the world," her poem said in part. "If we die in war, the grown-ups will have to answer for it."

Leningrad is the 13th stop on Tony's 17,500-mile trip, which has been dubbed the "friendship flight" because of the boy's plan to meet with Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev next week to present him with a "friendship scroll" of the signatures of youngsters he has met during the trip.

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