A number of local veterans received the gift of a lifetime Sunday: a chance to ride in the cockpit of a World War II biplane flying out of Renton Municipal Airport.
It’s an experience provided by the nonprofit Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation based in Nevada.
The group operates several fully restored World War II-era biplanes. Thanks to sponsors and donations, it’s able to provide these flights, free of charge to seniors and military veterans all across the country.
Flying time normally lasts no more than 10 to 15 minutes, but for these lucky passengers, including Navy veteran, Bill Barber (a resident at Village Concepts of Burien), every second was priceless.
“I like flying I wish I can do more. It’s the finances that stop you from doing it,” said Barber.
The particular biplane, Barber and other veterans flew in today was built in 1944 and served as an army training plane before being converted into a crop duster.
Its engine and the outer fabrics have since been fully restored.
The pilots and crews involved in this program are all volunteers.
Pilot Clint Cawley works full time for a commercial airline.
“I grew up flying Stearman similar to this one so it’s a lot of fun to give back to veterans, especially seniors. You know it’s a really neat experience,” said Cawley.
Since it launched in 2011, Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation has flown nearly 4-thousand flights in 49 states.
For more information on Ageless Aviation, click here.