Oscar statues fly from Chicago to Los Angeles

SANDY COHEN Associated Press Published:

CHICAGO (AP) -- Oscar had his own boarding pass -- and a major entourage -- as he boarded a commercial flight named in his honor from Chicago to Los Angeles on Thursday.

Tom Sherak, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, carried Oscar through O'Hare International Airport, much to the astonishment of ticketed passengers who lined up for a chance to be photographed with the golden statuette.

The pilot of the United Airlines flight, "Oscar 1," allowed Oscar into the cockpit of the 757 before takeoff, calling the statuette his most prestigious "non-human" passenger yet.

"It's a special treat. We want everyone to enjoy the flight and enjoy the show," Capt. Mel Mason Jnr. said.

Sherak and other academy officials are personally escorting 42 of the coveted trophies back to academy headquarters in Beverly Hills, Calif., from the R.S. Owens foundry in suburban Chicago. Sherak said passengers would have a chance to meet Oscar during the 4 ½-hour flight -- but warned of the potential for disruption.

"We'll see how the speeches go," Sherak said. "It could be a seven hour flight."

The gushing words of thanks began before the golden guy even left the ground, with a trio of flight attendants making acceptance speeches at the airport. One thanked her mom, one thanked Jesus and the other thanked the Transportation Security Administration.

The Oscars will be presented Feb. 26.