AUBURN, Wash. — Blue skies and bright smiles filled the air in Auburn Wednesday as some local seniors took flight in a unique tribute to their service as veterans.
Eight seniors from The Lakeshore retirement community in Renton were selected by the nonprofit “Dream Flights.” The organization is designed to "give back to those who gave." The flights take place in restored Boeing Stearman biplanes.
Ryan Weir is a volunteer pilot with Dream Flights and said the planes are the same kind many would have trained with prior to World War II.
“It’s special to take these veterans up in an open-cockpit plane like this and relive memories,” Weir said.
Weir was filled with pride to take the veterans on a ride. He got to fly a former nurse, engineer, medic and even a former pilot in his plane.
“We take care of the flying so they just get the front seat to soak up the experience from 1,000 feet,” Weir said.
Krista Trapp, the life enrichment director with The Lakeshore, said the whole experience gives residents some excitement and a unique opportunity to reflect on their service.
“It’s been wonderful to see the emotions from the veterans and their families. Smiling and laughing and even crying,” Trapp said.
Dream Flights provides these flights free of charge and encourages passengers to share their stories of surviving through great strife.
Since the organization was founded in 2011, Dream Flights has honored more than 5,000 veterans and seniors in long-term care. The donation-based nonprofit will fly more veterans over Auburn this week before heading to Idaho next week.
To request a Dream Flight or to support the cause check out their website.