By Michele Chaffee
Peeking over the sides of the plane from 1000 feet above the shore, you feel a continuous blast of wind in your face and the roaring engines in your ears and the intense vibration all through your body. You see the crystal blue Pacific stretching for miles. The adrenaline is pumping and you can’t stop smiling and laughing. It feels like a dream—a loud, thrilling dream. That’s what it was like to fly in an open cockpit bi-plane.
Ageless Aviation Dream Flights, a non-profit organization, gave this once-in-a-lifetime experience to eight LCG residents last month as a “thank –you” to seniors. The people selected were all veterans, mostly pilots, who all love to fly.
The special day began with our pilot, Captain Mike Sommars, and his wife Lynn gathering us together and sharing each participant’s story as a veteran. The questions poured out of Mike about wartime aviation.
Each year, Mike and Lynn fly the bright red, vintage Boeing Stearman P-17 around the United States meeting up with senior groups. There are three such planes around the country and more to come. The organization was founded in 2011 and, to date, 3,600 seniors have enjoyed a free Dream Flight.
One by one, Lloyd Anna, Roy Mosteller, Ron Ludwig, Dick Dietz, Joyce Dietz, Hal Sprogis, Dick Haskett, Wayne Strunk and I, climbed into the front passenger seat of the Stearman for our own 20- minute, personal flight out of tiny, rustic Oceanside Municipal Airport. It was like stepping back in time.
The best part of the experience was how special we were made to feel. The volunteers hugged us and sincerely thanked us for allowing Dream Flights to come here and give us this gift. It truly meant as much to them as it did to us.