Flight of a Lifetime
by Elane Jones
Dec 26, 2012 | 4178 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hartselle resident Glenn Horton, who is currently battling pancreatic cancer, gets instructions from Pilot Billy Strickland, before the two took to the skies for Horton’s dream flight in a World War II Mustang fighter plane. – Photo by: Elane Jones.
Hartselle resident Glenn Horton, who is currently battling pancreatic cancer, gets instructions from Pilot Billy Strickland, before the two took to the skies for Horton’s dream flight in a World War II Mustang fighter plane. – Photo by: Elane Jones.
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Glenn Horton of Hartselle has dreamed of flying in a World War II Mustang since he was a young boy. His lifelong dream came true this week when he climbed into the cockpit of a 1944 P-51D Mustang fighter plane at the Walker County Airport-Bevill Field.

“It’s always been a dream of mine, since I was a kid. It was also one of the things on my bucket list, which I’m busy marking off one by one,” said Horton, who was grinning from ear to ear like a little kid, once he was back on the ground. “We did a few rolls. Those 90 degree turns were pretty scary, but I loved it.”

Two of Horton’s fellow co-workers, Josh Smith and Greg Dixon, were able to make their friend’s dream come true with a little help from the owner of Sanders Aviation in Jasper, Joey Sanders, and the co-owner and pilot of the plane, Billy Strickland of Birmingham.

Horton’s wife, Sharon, who is an instructor at Wallace State Community College, was there to watch Saturday morning as her husband flew off into the wild, blue yonder on his adventure of a lifetime.

“Glenn was so excited and we’re so thankful to everyone who made this possible,” Sharon said. “This was on his bucket list and we’re enjoying the time we have together to marking off those things.”

Horton is currently undergoing his second phase of chemotherapy for Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer. Sharon said several of her husband’s coworkers at the railroad had planned on taking him to Florida for the adventure in the spring, but decided to do it now for Christmas.

“They wanted to do it now so Glenn would be able to enjoy it. They were afraid if they waited until the spring, he might not feel up to it,” Sharon said. “He’s been through a pretty tough time lately, and it was wonderful to see him smile like that.”

The aircraft in which Horton flew and is co-owned by Strickland and Wes Stowers is named “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and is painted in the colors of the original Mustang flown by Capt. Jesse Frey of Indianapolis, Ind., who flew the real “Ain’t Misbehavin” during World War II.

Frey was a flight leader with the 362 Fighter Squadron with the 357th Fighter Group, and flew combat missions in 1944/1945 from Leiston, England, escorting the 8th Air Force Bombers over Germany. He never aborted a mission and downed two enemy aircraft — an ME-109 and an FW-190.

The Mustangs were among the best and most well-known fighters used by the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, Sanders said.

“I was thrilled and honored to be a part of all this and see the smile on Glenn’s face when he stepped out of the plane once they were back on the ground,” he added. “This is what Christmas is all about.”