Tony Aliengena, the 11-year-old San Juan Capistrano boy flying the Friendship Flight to the Soviet Union, played fighter jock Monday on one of the easier legs of the journey he hopes will make him the youngest person to pilot a plane around the world.
Tony, who plans to deliver an 1,000-foot Friendship Scroll signed by 250,000 American youngsters to Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, passed the time on the nearly two-hour flight from Oslo, Norway, to Stockholm by pretending to be at the controls of a warplane.
"Someone could have a missile down there and shoot us right now," Tony exclaimed excitedly, fidgeting in the booster seat that enables him to see over the instrument panel of the single-engine Cessna 210 Centurion. "Then we would fire right back--with laser guns!"
While his father admonished him to keep an eye out for other planes, Tony cruised at a relatively low altitude of 5,500 feet, giving his parents and sister a good view of the unfolding panorama of lakes and forests, interspersed with small farms and red-roofed hamlets.
"It's really gorgeous up here, like a different world," Tony's mother, Susan, said as she gazed through clear blue skies at the Swedish countryside.
Monday's flight came two weeks after Tony took off from John Wayne Airport in Orange County and was a marked change from the tedious, six-hour passage across the North Atlantic from Reykjavik, Iceland, that brought Tony and his entourage to Oslo on Sunday. That part of the journey saw Tony flying at around 11,000 feet and weaving his way in and out of clouds. For 20 minutes he lost radio contact with one of the two planes accompanying his craft and carrying journalists and family friends.
Monday, however, was a relatively easy hop between two neighboring countries and brought Tony tantalizingly close to one of his prime objectives: the Soviet Union.
Aeronautical charts that Tony used on the flight warn aircraft not to stray too close to the Soviet Union, lest they be "fired upon without notice." And when Tony and his group reached their Stockholm hotel Monday evening, a television set was playing a program from nearby Leningrad.
"I feel like I'm almost home," said Maxim
Chikin, one of two Soviet journalists who have been accompanying Tony and his family around the world. But while he is now within easy flying range of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Tony does not have clearance to enter the country until Friday.
Until then, he will make do sightseeing in Stockholm before flying to nearby Helsinki, Finland, on Wednesday night. Tony is scheduled to leave Helsinki at 8 a.m. Friday for the two-hour flight across the Gulf of Finland that will end with him touching down on Soviet soil.
The significance of Tony's undertaking was not lost on the Swedish news media, who turned out en masse to greet his plane and feature his flight on prime-time television. But while journalists elsewhere have focused their questions on Tony's flying ability, the Swedes--who live in the shadow of the Soviet Union--devoted almost all their inquiries to a friendship message that Tony plans to deliver in Moscow.
Tony's 17,000-mile trip has been dubbed the Friendship Flight because he will deliver more than 50,000 letters from U.S. schoolchildren to Soviet youngsters, as well as presenting Gorbachev with the massive "friendship scroll" when he arrives in Moscow next week.
On Sweden's national television network, a newscaster called Tony an important visiting dignitary and played videotape showing the boy reading aloud a portion of the friendship message to journalists gathered at Stockholm's Bromma Airport.
Scandinavian government officials have also attached special importance to Tony's friendship mission, waiving the customary rigorous clearance through customs for Tony and his entourage of 11 persons. In Norway and Sweden, government officials checked no passports and required only that Tony's father, Gary, riding as co-pilot in Tony's plane, and Dr. Lance Allyn, a Hanford, Calif., surgeon who is piloting one of the chase planes, sign declarations that they were not bringing in anything illegal.
Chikin, a correspondent for the Moscow youth newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, expressed disappointment that the Scandinavian authorities had not asked to view his visas, which required months of effort for him to obtain.
"What did I get a visa for?" Chikin said after passing unchecked through Stockholm's airport.
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