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Granddaughter Recreates Historic Lake Michigan Flight

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A 61-year-old native of Evanston has duplicated the historic flight that her grandfather made 100 years ago today.

Just before 11 a.m., Faith Vilas circled the lakefront three times and then put her small plane down near Navy Pier.

She had come from Benton Harbor, Mich., roughly duplicating what her grandfather Jack Vilas did July 1, 1913. He was the first person to fly a plane across Lake Michigan.

“And just before he went in to land, some cable broke somewhere and started squirting boiling hot water on his back. And he just barely made it over the breakwater and said, OK I’m landing.”

And 100 years later, Faith Vilas’ trip over was a little dicey because of the wind.

“It was one last shot at taking a landing. And maybe we made it and maybe we didn’t. And we picked one spot that we thought looked like it was pretty calm, and that was a pretty bouncy landing. But it seemed to work out pretty well.”

Someone in the crowd said, “Yes, it did.”

“I’m here,” said Faith Vilas. “That’s good enough.”

On the ground, she thanked her husband – and paid homage to her grandfather.

Faith Vilas completes flight across Lake Michigan. (Credit: Helen Marshall)

Faith Vilas completes flight across Lake Michigan. (Credit: Helen Marshall)

“This is for you, Pops.”