Dream Flights courtesy of Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation
Courtesy Fernley Estates
Vietnam War veteran and U.S. Army Private Lee Wurz, along with six other senior veterans and residents from Fernley Estates Senior Living and Memory Care, enjoyed a trip back in time, courtesy of Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation (AADF). Each resident took a dream flight at Fernley’s Tiger Field on May 30 in a fully restored 1943 Boeing-Stearman biplane, the same aircraft used to train aviators during World War II.
AADF is a non-profit organization that honors military veterans and seniors living in long-term care communities with 20-minute flights 1,000 feet above friends and family. Since 2011, volunteer pilots have given more than 3,000 free dream flights nationwide.
The weather cooperated as each senior took turns strapping on a canvas helmet, climbing aboard the plane, and giving a thumbs-up, a signal for the pilot they were ready for take-off.
“It’s all about the experience,” said Darryl Fisher, founder of AADF and CEO of Mission Senior Living, Fernley Estates’ parent organization. “When we show up in a Stearman and spend time listening to their stories, it’s special. This is our way of thanking the military veterans for their service.”
Wurz served in the U.S. Army’s “Wolfhound” unit. Shot twice, he received a Purple Heart. His love for old planes dates to his father, a World War II pilot, who used to take Wurz for plane rides.
Other flyers included U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Chuck Garton, who served in the Vietnam War and retired from the military after 40 years of service, Lee Banner; a E-5 Sergeant in the Marine Corps who served in the Vietnam War; and Loraine Silva, a basic airman in the U.S. Air Force, who served as an X-ray technician stateside. Joy Murray, an aviation enthusiast who was married to a U.S. Army major and Al Calvin, a former pilot whose eyes light up when he talks about planes, also received dream flights.
“The experience was wonderful!” said Silva, who spent a lot of time in and out of planes while she served in the Air Force. Silva said when she was injured, they transported her to the hospital in a plane similar to a Stearman. “I never thought I’d fly in one again in my lifetime,” she said.
Family, friends, and staff were on-hand to celebrate. The Nevada Veterans Coalition presented the colors before the start of the first flight.
For more information on AADF, visit www.agelessaviationdreams.org. To learn more about Fernley Estates Senior Living and Memory Care, call (775) 372-8625 or visit http://www.fernleyestates.net.
About Fernley Estates Senior Living
Fernley Estates Senior Living and Memory Care, located at 1130 Chisholm Trl, Fernley, Nev., is operated by Mission Senior Living (MSL), a senior living and memory care organization with locations in Oregon, Nevada and Arizona. 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. For more information about Fernley Estates, call (775) 372-8625 or visit http://www.fernleyestates.net. For more information about Mission Senior Living, visit http://www.missionseniorliving.net or call (775) 468-6114.