Irene Carol had never flown in a 1942 Boeing Stearman biplane, but on a clear day in late October, she was looking down at the world below from the World War II-era aircraft.
The pilot was Darryl Fisher of Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation, a non-profit organization that treats senior military veterans with a “Dream Flight.”
“That was my first ride in a plane like that,” Irene said. “I flew a Cessna, and I took lessons in planes. But I could never find the ground in landing. I bounced them too hard.”
Irene served her country in World War II as a yeoman second-class in the Navy. Her division was nicknamed WAVES, short for “Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.”
Irene recalled when the war was brought to America’s doorstep: “When they said that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, I said, ‘Where is that?’ Nobody knew.”
Irene was not the only veteran enjoying herself at Casa Grande Municipal Airport. Her neighbor at The Garnet of Casa Grande, Jay Carpenter, was there to fly as well, and several friends had come along to cheer them on.
Jay was an Army Sergeant in the Korean War. He and his brother, who passed away in 1980, started flying together when they were ages nine and 15, respectively.
“We flew in Arizona here,” Jay said. “We had our own plane.”
While up in the air with Darryl, Jay got a nice surprise.
Darryl said, “Jay, I know you know how to fly.” Jay said that he did. “Well, you’ve got the controls.”
“I got a hold of the joystick and took it up a little bit,” Jay said. “I banked a few curves. It was just like riding a bike. I only had a couple of bumps because of the mountains. It brought back a lot of memories. Thirty-three years ago was the last time I flew like that.”
Both Irene and Jay said that they would love to go flying again.
How you can help more veterans experience a Dream Flight
If you would like to apply for a Dream Flight of your own or on behalf of a loved one who served our country, you can visit www.agelessaviationdreams.org. If you would like to help more senior veterans enjoy the thrill of flight, Irene and Jay encourage you to make a donation, whether as an individual or corporate sponsor.