GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Several veterans are back on the ground after the flight of a lifetime Monday thanks to a national organization. The effort gives men and women who have served our country a chance at a rare plane ride.
It's all thanks to the Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation, a nationwide organization that puts veterans in the seat of a 1940s biplane. The flights are completely free of charge. But those who make it happen say they get the satisfaction is payment enough.
"We do it because it's the right thing to do. We love doing it," said pilot and retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Tim Newton.
The organization just celebrated its 2000th flight in Oxford, MS where coincidentally it had its first flight in 2011. Today, its mission remains the same; to give back to men and women who sacrificed so much for us.
Newton said it's the least he and the organization can do.
"They saved the world and we feel it's right to tell them thank you for what they've done for us," he said.
The effort speaks volumes to these men and women. "I think it's wonderful that they would think of us veterans," said veteran Doris Jones.
Jones served in the Army and was excited to fly. So was Air Force World War II Prisoner of War, Jack Oyster.
"I'm ready," said Oyster. It was a blast from the past for him. "I haven't been in an open cockpit plane for I don't know how many years. I'm looking forward to doing it again."
And the flight put him right back into his service years. Newton offered to let the veterans take over the controls for a little bit in the air. Air Force vet Tom Adams took the challenge and took over control of the plane for a bit during his flight.
"He said I did okay," joked Adams.
Each veteran left the airstrip with a signed hat, and great memories. Ageless Aviation expects to provide more than 800 flights for veterans across the country this year alone.