MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio — Nearly a dozen veterans living at the Western Reserve Masonic Community in Medina took to the skies Wednesday, soaring in a Boeing Stearman World War II biplane.
The event at the Medina Municipal Airport all came about with the help of the nonprofit Dream Flights.
“We fly senior veterans in nursing homes, assisted living centers, and retirement centers in these 1940’s World War II biplanes all over the U.S. free of charge,” founder, president and pilot Darrly Fisher said. “Just because you get older, doesn’t mean you have to give up on dreams.”
“We are thrilled to be able to offer our residents an opportunity like this,” Jason French, president of Western Reserve Masonic Community, said in a release. “It is what Springfield Masonic Community is all about.”
Among those flying was 90-year-old Rowena Lindh, who served in the Navy from 1951-1955.
“I joined the Navy to see the world,” she explained. “I used the radar equipment in a training room, not an aircraft, to teach pilots and crewmen how to hunt for submarines.”
Lindh credits the memory of her late-son Jerry, also a veteran, for nudging her to hop aboard.
“My firstborn son, he was with the Air Force Academy,” Lindh said. “He became a pilot and flew the F-111 until it crashed and he was killed [in 1992]. I imagine he would like for me to go on it, and that’s partly why I am going because I know he would think I was silly to miss the opportunity. I never in the world thought I would be going up in a small biplane.”
Fisher explained he started the idea in 2011 and since then, has shared 5,300 flights with veterans.
“This plane is unique because it had a single function in World War 2 and that was to train pilots to fly bomber or fly fighters,” he added.
After a twenty minute flight, News 5 watched as veterans landed back on the ground, with smiles wider than the wings of the aircraft.
“I had a good time,” Lindh said, almost at a loss for words. “It’s a big place - this world.”
To learn more about Dream Flights, click here.