Growing up, Doug R., 80, lived near the airport in Miami, Florida where he enjoyed watching the planes land and take off. Since then, the idea of flying planes “stuck in his head.” One day years later when Doug was driving home from work, he decided to make a U-turn and head to the Air Force recruiting office to inquire about pilot opportunities. A few months later, Doug went to basic training to be an Air Force pilot. For five years, Doug served as an air craft commander flying cargo planes during the Vietnam War.
After serving in Vietnam War, Doug went on to be a commercial airline pilot. He was a pilot for nearly thirty years, until he retired. “Being a pilot was a job he absolutely loved,” said his son, Gary, “His love of flying created a sense of identity for him.” It has been twenty years since Doug was able to fly a plane, and his Wish of a Lifetime is to fly once again.
With the help of Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale, Doug once again took to the skies, not only once, but twice in one day, with his family in tow. On the first flight, he flew his grandson, Jonny, and granddaughter, Megan, for the first time. On the second flight, he went up with his son, Gary, and Gary’s mother, Ada. “I’ve never flown that type of plane [a Cessna Cardinal],” said Doug, “but I took the controls and knew how to fly it.” His favorite part? “Getting back in the air again after 20 years,” he said.
Photos by Charles McCarthy of Weefan Photography
Flights by Val Booth of Fort Lauderdale Air Tours/Skymax