Seniors honored with dream flights
Every time 82-year-old Bart Welsh goes up in a plane, he says ‘Whee,” said Welsh’s friend Jim Kinninger.
Welsh was one of three residents from Carson Valley Senior Living to take flights at the Minden-Tahoe Airport on Friday courtesy of Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation.
“I’m always excited to fly,” said Welsh.
Ageless Aviation has given more than 2,000 flights since 2011.
Pilot Darryl Fisher combined his passion for aviation with giving back to seniors and veterans into a single program.
Fisher comes from an aviation heritage, started by William L. and Dorothy Fisher in 1940. Their love of flight now transcends through four generations of pilots.
“We’re here to say ‘thank you’ for what they have done and give them a chance to fly again,” said Fisher. “I’ve never served in the military, but I have a deep appreciation for those who have and this is my way of giving back.”
Tyra Jasany, Life Enrichment Director at Carson Valley Senior Living, snapped pictures and wiped tears away as the residents took flight.
“It’s just amazing they can do this,” she said. “Sometimes working with the elderly they sometimes forget, but once you get them talking they have stories. They’re memories are so detailed and vivid.”
Marilyn Brannon, 87, reminisced flying World War II planes with her nephew who owns an AT6 and DC3, which is where her passion for flying began.
“He used to take me up and we would fly all over,” she said. “It was a marvelous flight, so smooth and soft, a really nice flight. I’d do it again and am looking forward to the next one.”
Welsh shared about being a pilot, a flight instructor and his passion of flying since he was 18.
Jim Kot was a little more nervous to take off than the other two.
The 90-year-old was an aircraft mechanic at Pacific Airmotive during World War II, working on P-51 and TF51, but his feet were always firmly grounded, he said.
Tears ran down Jan Parker’s face as she watched her father, Kot, take off for the first time.
“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” she said. “I’m excited for him. It’s one thing to work on them, but to fly one has to be amazing.”
It was, said Kot.
“I absolutely loved it,” he said. “It really surprised me, I could see the rudder pedals moving and it surprised me that it doesn’t take much to steer the plane.”
Ageless Aviation has provided Dream Flights in 38 states to date and more than 400 this year.
Besides Fisher, there are 25 other pilots that volunteer their time to honor seniors and senior veterans across the country with one mission, “giving back to those have given.”
“Not a single one of us is paid to do this,” Fisher said. “We do it because we want to honor those who have given.”
For more information about Ageless Aviation Dreams visit http://www.agelessaviationdreams.org.