Saturday, March 02, 2002

Four new Ohio state quarters are in orbit

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Ohio's newly-minted quarter commemorating the birth of aviation flew into space Friday.

        Two astronauts with Ohio ties carried four quarters with them on the space shuttle Columbia's 11-day mission to repair the Hubbell telescope.

        “We were trying to figure a way to promote the new quarter,” said Fred Stratmann, spokesman for the Ohio Bicentennial Commission in Columbus. “The delay of the shuttle flight really helped. We received the first-minted quarters in time.”

        The new quarter, called “Birthplace of Aviation Pioneers,” pays tribute to “the brave men and women who pushed aviation and aerospace exploration further and further,” said Stephen C. George, the commission's executive director. “It's only fitting that two such pioneers are carrying these quarters.”

        The astronauts are Nancy Currie of Troy and Richard Linnehan. Both are graduates of Ohio State University.

        When they return, the astronauts will each keep a coin and the other two will go on display March 18 at the U.S. Air Force Museum near Dayton.

        Ohio's early aviation pioneers are Dayton's Wilbur and Orville Wright, who made the first flight in 1903.

        Another pioneer, former astronaut and senator John Glenn, will be at the museum March 18.

        The U.S. Mint will make about 750 million Ohio quarters this month as a part of its 10-year program to represent the 50 states.

        The four Ohio quarters arrived at the Kennedy Space Center just in time, thanks to the efforts of Mark Feurer, a retired Ohio State Highway Patrol officer and Westerville native.

        “He just happened to be down there and available to help,” Mr. Stratmann said.

        “I don't want to be corny, but you could say he carried a buck's worth of history.”


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