Our Community Members on Cloud Nine
Seeing our community members thrive makes our hearts soar. So we thought it only fitting to return the favor. Rowntree Gardens is proud to partner with the Ageless Aviation Dream Foundation, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that invites WWII and Korean War veterans, their spouses, as well as other seniors who had an aviation connection in their youth, to spread their wings flying in restored vintage airplanes. Through our partnership with Ageless Aviation, we’ve brought the first Dream Flights to Orange County.
To date, 13 of our community members — including several veterans — have flown out of Fullerton Airport in WWII-era biplanes. They’ve described the experience as unforgettable and exhilarating. Seeing the smiles on their faces and the sense of adventure in their eyes has been pretty unforgettable for us as well. Now we’d like to share their experience with you.
Here are videos of our community members soaring above the clouds and loving every minute of it
WWII veteran pilot and Purple Heart recipient Colin was shot down over Germany in 1943 while flying his B-24 bomber. Colin survived 17 months in a POW camp, then made a daring escape on foot. We had the honor of helping this true American hero take to the skies again.
Ana’s husband served in the Navy as part of the Seabees — civilian recruits who helped fight and rebuild countries during WWII and the Korean Conflict. Hearing her husband’s stories of war-time travels made her long for adventure as well. Sitting in the co-pilot’s seat of a 1944 biplane, Ana found the adventure she was looking for.
Ed served as an Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class for the U.S. Navy in WWII. He recalls that the Navy pilots occasionally let him fly with them, and sometimes even take control of the plane. Ed found himself back in the co-pilot’s seat this past April, flying in a WWII-era plane much like the ones he remembers.
As a Corporal in the U.S. Army, Chuck always dreamed of learning to fly, but never got the opportunity. On April 6, at the age of 83, Chuck finally got his chance to sit in the open cockpit of a Stearman biplane. “It was great,” Chuck says of the experience. “When you’re up there, you can’t stop looking all over the place.”
Mary knew as a young girl that she wanted to pilot planes, but was told “Girls don’t fly.” At the age of 45, Mary got her pilot’s license and her first Cessna. She and her co-pilot husband Vince spent the next 30 years flying across the Southwest. Recently, she had a chance to get back up in the air.
Vince’s love of flying led him to enlist in the Army. During WWII, he served as part of a bomber crew flying over Japan. One of Vince’s jobs was to pull the pins to release the bombs. Vince continued flying with his wife Mary after the war. It was an honor to invite Vince back in the co-pilot’s seat for our Dream Flights event.
As a serviceman in the Army, George was stationed in France during the Berlin crisis following WWII. After leaving the Army, he became an elementary school teacher and married Michaeline, who worked for Boeing. George dedicated his Dream Flight to his beautiful wife, who is living with Alzheimer’s.
A retired world history teacher for junior high school students, Betty was married to an Air Force pilot and loved to hear his stories of flying. Betty has always been a traveler at heart and loves to fly whenever she gets the chance. So she couldn’t pass up the chance to fly on a vintage biplane.
A former elementary and middle school teacher, Linda has traveled around the world in search of adventure. Her late husband served in the army during WWII, and she knew he would have loved to participate in the Dream Flights event. She’s thrilled to take to the skies in honor of his memory.
When asked if he’d like to take a spin in a WWII-era restored plane, Wes smiled and said, “That sounds like fun!” A former Coast Guard Private, Wes is used to traveling on
the water. But he certainly enjoyed flying high above the clouds for a change of scenery.
After graduating from college, Mac went into active military duty as a Naval aviator. Serving as a Navy Lieutenant, Mac led his own squadron while stationed in California. Following his service, he went to work for Douglas Aircraft. With all his aviation experience, he felt right at home in the clouds.
Lois and her husband designed and built their own home in Anaheim, so she knows there’s nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it. When asked if she wanted to fly a vintage plane, Lois thought of her mom — a former beauty queen who once got to take a ride in a biplane. Lois jumped at the chance to follow in her mother’s footsteps.
To learn more about the Ageless Aviation Dream Foundation and their mission to spread the joy of flight to retired and aspiring pilots of all ages, visit their website.
- “The Orange County Register: A flight to remember: Foundation returns veterans to the skies over Orange County”
- “The American Legion: O.C. honors eight adventurous seniors/WWII vets to fly in vintage biplane”
- “NBC4 Los Angeles: Vintage Plane ‘Dream Flights’ Bring Back Memories for WWII Vets”
To see the other fun things our community members are up to, visit us on Facebook!