Pilots from Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation came to Tracy for a second year with a PT-17 Stearman Army trainer airplane to give nine people 20-minute rides over town.
Several of the passengers were former military servicemen, and pilot Darryl Fisher said the flights were just a way to let the veterans and other seniors know that all their sacrifices and work through the years were appreciated.
“Thank you for everything you did for us,” Fisher said. “It is an honor to be here with you.”
Ageless Aviation Dreams travels across the United States giving seniors free rides in vintage airplanes. Last year, Fisher said, the foundation visited 20 states and gave 274 rides.
First in line for a flight Friday was 85-year-old U.S. Army veteran Leroy Conyers. Fisher asked Conyers what he did in the Army and Conyers replied, “I shot down airplanes.”
Conyers was stationed at the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico, where he fired missiles at planes.
Fisher and Mike Winterboer, another Ageless Aviation Dream pilot, helped the octogenarian into the front seat of the open-cockpit airplane.
Down from his flight, Conyers said he enjoyed the experience.
“It was wonderful, a very pleasant ride,” Conyers said. “My favorite part was the takeoff, where you could feel all the wind.”
Fisher gave Conyers an Ageless Aviation Dreams hat and wrote on it, “Leroy, don’t shoot me down.”
Most of the people who fly with the foundation have never been in an open-cockpit airplane, Fisher said. Years of practice help him get seniors with mobility problems safely aboard the airplane. A crew from the Tracy fire department was on hand to help this year.
Each time the PT-17 airplane landed, family and friends gathered for post-flight pictures.
Winterboer said he could see the participants’ interest and excitement as they prepared for their flights.
“When the see the airplane, they get 30 years younger,” Winterboer said.
Fisher said he planned to make the stop in Tracy an annual event.
• Contact Glenn Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-4252.