Chet and Matt (right) Pipkin at AirVenture with Commit 65's airplane.

Back in December, Matt Pipkin’s Commit 65 project–an endurance flight in which he and his dad will seek to remain aloft 65 days nonstop–was just starting to gather steam. Matt had a clear vision of what he wanted to accomplish and he knew he had a lot of work ahead of him.

I’ve kept tabs on Matt and Commit 65 via Twitter, and yesterday I got to meet him in person here at AirVenture. Thanks to the generosity of EAA, Commit 65 scored a booth in the Innovation Center. And they didn’t come empty-handed.

Some months ago, Commit 65 procured an essential component of the flight: an airplane. The Pipkins removed the wings from the 1958 Cessna 172 and trailered it to Oshkosh. The trip wasn’t without its issues. Rough roads in Wyoming jolted the trailer so much that a mount snapped. Attempting to reattach the wings, something slipped and a flap was damaged. But Matt wasn’t fazed. (Not too much, anyway.) After all, he told me, the airplane needs an engine overhaul, avionics, and a new prop anyway. What’s a couple more dings and dents here and there?

As the campaign builds momentum–and it has gained quite a bit, Matt said, thanks to national press and fundraisers in Boise–he’s continuing to work toward raising public awareness of childhood sexual abuse by incorporating other “out-of-the-box” ideas. One of these is a multi-college campaign in which students at 65 colleges around the nation would participate in an endurance challenge (Matt’s thinking paddle ball played while standing on a chair). The challenge would culminate with a 65-second “moment of noise” (as opposed to moment of silence), because Matt’s hope in raising awareness is to convince victims of sexual abuse to “speak their silence” and free themselves of guilt and pain. Now that’s what I call out of the box.

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