LAWTON, OK (TNN) - Eight local veterans got to fly in the cockpit of a Boeing Stearman, as part of The Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation’s visit to Lawton. It was their first time in Lawton, and they came at the request of the Lawton Fort Sill Veteran’s Center.
Neal Alexander, 84, served in the Air Force from 1953 to 1974. He says he’s had his fair share of riding in planes, but has never been in this type of plane, once used to train military aviators in World War II.
“It was a joy to get in there and do that," said Alexander. "I didn’t know what to expect, I just thought, ‘I hope I don’t fly a loop and fall out of that thing.’ But it was neat, I enjoyed it.”
Mike Sommars and his wife Lynn are part of the organization. Lynn says veterans come off the plane a lot younger than they went in.
“A lot of memories that are in their hearts get brought out by being in the sky and remembering what it felt like to be 19 and not the 90 year old with pain and a walker," said Sommars.
Ageless Aviation has flown nearly 4,000 veterans and Lynn says its emotional work. Seeing a veteran’s face light up is why they do it.
“What we’ve also found is the comradery," Sommars said. "‘Remember that day we flew?’ Mike always tells them, ‘Yeah brag it up and make it good!’”
Neal said he’d do it again in a heartbeat.
“Good gosh yeah, I could spend all day in it," he said. "It’s definitely nice.”
The Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation is made possible through sponsors and volunteers. Mike and Lynn wrap up their tour of Oklahoma next week in Ardmore.