The flight was made possible by Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation. The Nevada-based nonprofit got its start in 2011 when president Darryl Fisher and his father, Bill, were barnstorming the country together.
“I asked him if we could take some flights for some veterans and seniors, and he said, ‘Sure,’” Fisher said.
Their second “dream flight” was with Loyd Latham, an 87-year-old resident at The Terrace in Jasper. Darryl Fisher, a former owner of The Terrace, reached out to the administration at the assisted living facility to make the arrangements.
Father and son had so much fun flying with veterans like Latham during their two week tour that Ageless Aviation Dreams was formed in July 2011.
That year, the foundation sponsored 50 flights. The number increased to 100 flights in 2012.
This year, Ageless Aviation is on track for more than 250 flights and now includes three airplanes, all Boeing Stearmans.
The nonprofit is supported entirely through donations. Veterans are never charged for the experience.
“I routinely have them try to give me money and I will not take it. They have given enough,” Fisher said.
Flights last for 15-20 minutes, and each moment is a memory.
Prior to his stop in Jasper on Tuesday, Fisher was in Georgia flying a former B-29 navigator. The man was in tears as he stepped out of the plane.
“Since we deal mainly with assisted living and retirement centers, their flying days are over, or they think they’re over. So getting an opportunity to go up, let alone in something like this, is pretty special,” Fisher said.
Tuesday’s flights were set up through the Afterhours Clinic with local members of the VFW.
Jerry Little served in the United States Army from 1970 through 1972, and David Quartieri also served in the Army from 1968 through 1991.
Although neither man had any personal experience with a Boeing Stearman, they weren’t intimidated by the open cockpit.
“As long as he don’t start twirling it, I’ll be fine,” Quartieri said.
“As long as he doesn’t dump me out, I’ll be alright too,” Little said.
For more information, visit www.agelessaviationdreams.org.