Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation puts heroes in the sky

Eight military veterans from the Veterans Home in Waupaca County climbed into the open-cockpit of a 1940s biplane, and took to the sky. June 21, 2018 at Waupaca Municipal Airport. (WLUK image)

WAUPACA (WLUK) -- Eight military veterans from the Veterans Home in Waupaca County climbed into the open-cockpit of a 1940s biplane, and took to the sky. It was a part of the Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation’s Dream Flight.

For the last 50 years, the group's mission has been to provide veterans around the country (more than 3,000 of them now) a ride in a World War II military trainer.

"Something happens physiologically with people,” AADF president and pilot Darryl Fisher said. “Not every time, but enough times that it changes people and, at a minimum, it puts a huge smile on their face; it puts a spring in their step."

Something, in fact, did happen Wednesday at Waupaca Municipal Airport. In fulfilling its mission to "Give Back to Those Who Have Given," the non-profit organization gave these senior veterans the flight of a lifetime, rejuvenated their spirits and made memories come flooding back in.

"I didn't have to give too much of my service time but, for some of those that I took care of, they gave an awful lot," said Army veteran John “Jack” Doyle.

The Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation is an all-volunteer group, providing free flights to veterans living in long-term care communities. Veterans get to soar through the sky in a Boeing Stearman biplane steeped with history.

"They were designed to teach WWII pilots to fly,” Fisher explained. “This is the first airplane a WWII pilot would fly in their primary training.”

AADF has honored hundreds of senior veterans with a Dream Flight each year and will continue providing flights well into the future.

The organization set a goal two years ago of $250,000 to buy another Stearman, and base it in Stevens Point. That goal Tuesday was met. The aircraft will be appropriately named the "The Spirit of Wisconsin."

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