Legislators Honor Tony for Record Flight

Times Staff Writers

The California Senate unanimously passed a resolution Monday honoring 11-year-old Tony Aliengena of San Juan Capistrano for his record-setting achievement this summer as the youngest person to pilot a plane around the world.

The resolution, introduced by Sen. Marion Bergeson (R-Newport Beach), credits Tony with courage for piloting a single-engine airplane nearly 22,000 miles around the world, making stops in seven countries, including the Soviet Union.

The resolution praised the flight as "a magnificent effort to promote the cause of world peace and international cooperation. . . . (It) has established him as . . . an adventurous and brave role model for children and adults everywhere."

Tony was escorted to the front of the Senate chambers Monday afternoon by a phalanx of senators before Bergeson lauded the boy for his "courageous" flight around the world. She presented Tony as "California's most frequent flier, the world's youngest ambassador for peace."

In the rear of the chambers were Tony's parents, Gary and Susan.

Tony's remarks to the senator brought a roar of laughter:

"First of all, I would like to say that a few months ago I was sitting up here with my class in the bleachers and I never thought I'd be down here. Maybe next time I'm down here, I'll be a senator.

"Now that I've been around the world, I just want to say I'm proud to be in the U.S.A."

Tony and his family flew to Sacramento in a rented plane for the occasion. The family has not been able to retrieve the Cessna 210 Centurion that Tony's father, Gary Aliengena, crashed on takeoff July 18 from an airstrip in Golovin, Alaska. Tony and his entourage had stopped there for a fishing side trip while on the global flight.

Gary Aliengena, a real estate investor, said he hoped to salvage the heavily damaged plane "for sentimental value." He added that the Federal Aviation Administration report on his accident has not been sent to him yet.

The Cessna was carrying eight people--two more than the plane's federal seating limit. Federal officials also determined that Aliengena took off from a taxiway instead of a runway. But Aliengena said the gravel airstrip is so poorly designed that he could not readily distinguish one from the other.

Tony's Sacramento reception was warmer than the one he got in Washington, where he and his family went after the flight to meet with President Bush and present him with a friendship scroll signed by thousands of Soviet schoolchildren. Bush declined to meet with Tony.

The Aliengena family is trying to figure out now what to do with the scroll.

Frammolino reported from Sacramento and Carlton from Orange County.

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