Jim Flies in an Open-Cockpit Navy Training Plane

Jim, of Galleria Woods in Hoover, AL, is an 84-year-old retired Physicist with a passion for flying. Jim has had his Wish of a Lifetime to fly in an open-cockpit biplane for almost 70 years.
Jim’s Wish started to take shape when he took an Aeronautics class in high school that his Physics teacher taught. Jim liked the class so much that he decided to use the money he had saved up from delivering orders for the local grocery store and cleaning houses to get his pilot’s license. His Physics teacher was actually his instructor and would take Jim out to Danberry, CT, to train him how to fly. He got his pilot’s license at age 15 and was flying by the age of 17. Unfortunately, the open-cockpit planes that Jim really wanted to fly were too expensive for him at the time. Jim tried to carry his passion for flying into the Air Force after high school, but they weren’t taking any more pilots at the time, so he entered the Navy. While serving as an Aviation Radioman for the US Navy, Jim grew an even deeper appreciation for the open-cockpit planes that were nicknamed “Yellow Perils”. He got to work around the planes, but, once again, he never actually got the chance to fly in one.

After the service, Jim got married and had children. Flying was always on his mind, but he had a very demanding schedule as a physicist: “I was busy. Flying is expensive. I was focused on my family. But I never forgot about it.” Jim taught in high schools and universities for almost 30 years. He has given so much to his community, and always spent his time putting his students and his family ahead of himself.

On October 19, 2012, Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale Senior Living were able to grant Jim’s wish to fly in a “Yellow Peril,” just like those he used to work on when he was in the Navy. He brought his good friend, Mary Pate, along to send him off on his adventure. While the weather reports called for strong wind gusts, Jim wasn’t fazed in the least. Jim said, “The fact that it was a bumpy ride actually added to the experience. It was the first time I had the controls of a plane since I was 17 years old!”

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October 19, 2012