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Commit 65 Woos Oprah While Bike Swap Shutters

Father/son flying team hopes to find favor with letter-writing campaign

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Chet and Matt Pipkin want to meet Oprah, but they need help to get her attention. The father/son duo is hosting an all-out campaign to pitch their story to the queen of all media before she goes off the air later this year.

The Pipkins are in the process of trying to break the world record for longest endurance flight by flying for 65 consecutive days without touching down. Beyond ending up in the Guinness Book of World Records, the Pipkins hope their adventure will help raise awareness of childhood sexual abuse and encourage victims to speak out.

The logistics of putting a small plane in the air for more than two months is a major challenge, but the two pilots are working to modify a plane to allow for air-to-air refueling (instead of air-to-ground as originally intended), as well as providing some sleeping space. Matt said he and his father have set a tentative fly date for spring 2012, but that depends on actually procuring an airplane and having the FAA approve the necessary modifications. They're now working on getting some corporate sponsors to help nudge things along.

And no one can give as big a nudge as Lady O, so spreading the word of their campaign by going on the highest-rated talk show in history seems like a good way to get some exposure. The pair is running their "Look at us, Oprah," effort from the Commit 65 website, commit65.org.

Visit the website for updates, as well as to download a conveniently pre-written letter that you can send to Oprah if you want the Pipkins to have a reason to fly to Chicago before their two-month stint.

Unfortunately, national support isn't in the cards for the annual Bike Swap. Organizers announced that they were forced to cancel what would have been the eighth annual event.

"We've had some great success with it, but it became pretty obvious some years back that the inventory was either being supplied by outside sellers or our stores," said George's Cycles Mike Cooley, one of the organizers. "The inventory being supplied by retailers was [low] in numbers. What has happened this year is, we just don't have any bikes left over."

But Cooley talked it over with Vern Padaca of Team Therapeutic Associates-Dobbiaco Cycling & Multisport, George's Cycles' partner with for the swap, and they decided to go to an every-other year format, with plans to be swapping two-wheelers again in February 2012.

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