Senior veterans get special flight in WWII plane

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Some veterans got the flight of their life around Colorado Springs on Wednesday.

The Ageless Aviation Dream Foundation took veterans from Bonaventure Senior Living to see the city from the sky.

“I was pretty excited!” Said Nellie McCool, a former air force service pilot. “Memories are something they can’t take away.”

McCool spent a lot of time around airplanes during World War II.

“I used to do anything around the airport just to earn some flying time”, McCool said.

McCool said she worked at NORAD in Cheyenne Mountain and served as a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot, or WASP.

“I think in my flight, there were 99 boys and me. I didn’t mind the odds at all” she said.

She flew planes just like this, a Boeing Stearman used to train aviators in the 1930s and ‘40s.

This one was built in the early 40’s and it was used to train pilots for World War II”, said Tim Newton, a volunteer pilot.

However, it’s not the fastest plane of its time.

“Took off at 90 miles per hour down the runway, so there were no speed records broke today with that aircraft”, said Joseph Salute, former Air Force radar technician.

But it was perfect for Wednesday’s mission.

“This was a ‘once in a life time’ type of experience – to fly in a World War II biplane. Went out to Garden of the Gods. Got a once in a lifetime view of that from the air and to Prospect Lake and back”, Salute said.

They’re all veterans of some kind today.

“I enlisted in 1951. It was the Korean War. The draft was on and I decided to go with the Air Force,” Salute said.

“The things that they did and sacrificed for us, especially this age group, the greatest generation…without what they did for us, we wouldn’t be out here, Doing this. So it’s just a little way that we can say thank you to them”, said Newton.

But it’s not just a thank you they get. They get a reminder of the life they lived.

“At their age, a lot of times they’re told no. No, you can’t do this. You can’t do that”, Newton said.  “Once they realize that yes, you can and there are things you aren’t limited from, then it opens up a whole lot of things that they can still do that they enjoy doing”.  

They get a chance to do things with a different perspective.

“You know the world looks so clean and perfect. People are miniature. So are your problems”, McCool said.

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