Senior military veterans experience flights of lifetime in WWII era biplane
Story and photos courtesy of Fernley Estates
Silver Springs – Local military veterans Bob Riley, 70, and Tim Crawford, 81, experienced what few people get a chance to: soar 1,000 feet through Nevada’s blue skies in a restored WWII-era biplane, the same aircraft used to train aviators.
The experience was made possible by Fernley Estates Senior Living, an assisted living and memory care community where Riley works as the director of environmental services, and where Crawford calls home. The pair was honored on July 26 at the Silver Springs Airport.
“You’re never too old to experience the anticipation and fun of trying something new,” said Laura Higman, administrator at Fernley Estates. “Every day we find ways, big and small, to make residents smile, laugh, and feel the love we have for them. With Dream Flights, we can show Bob and Tim how grateful we are for their dedication and service to our country.”
According to the nonprofit’s founder, Darryl Fisher, Dream Flights’ mission is giving back to those who gave. Crawford, a U.S. Navy pilot, served in Vietnam, and Riley served 27 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy.
During Riley’s Dream Flight, the pilot flew over Fernley Estates, where residents had gathered outside.
“Sarah, our life enrichment director, had all of the residents outside waving at Bob and the pilot,” said Higman.
According to Fisher, the experience is “pure magic” and fliers can’t help but have a smile on their face and a spring in their step after they land. Riley and Crawford were smiling ear to ear after their flights, said Higman, as were Alyssa Tapio, Fernley’s administrative assistant, and Jeanne McGinnis, Fernley’s transportation driver.
Since 2011, the nonprofit has given free Dream Flights to more than 5,000 seniors and veterans living in retirement communities. During last year’s 61-day Operation September Freedom tour, Dream Flights landed in 333 U.S. cities to honor nearly 1,000 members of the Greatest Generation.
Dream Flights are always free. The nonprofit relies on corporate sponsors, donors, and individual donations to cover the costs. Visit www.dreamflights.org/donate to learn more.
Fernley Estate Senior Living, located at 1130 Chisholm Trail, Fernley, NV 89408, is one of eight Carson City, Nev.-based Mission Senior Living (MSL) communities located in four states. MSL’s mission, Caring People, Serving People, Improving Lives, is fulfilled by a compassionate team of professionals who provide care, services, and resident-centered programming and activities to enrich the lives of residents and their families.