TEMPLE, Texas — Anna Reynolds served in the Navy as a nurse in World War II. She is now 101. Lee Mouche, a nurse cadet, is 95.
Wednesday morning, the veterans took turns climbing into a 1940s biplane thanks to Dream Flights.
Created in 2011 as a nonprofit, Dream Flights provides flight experiences for veterans and seniors. Pilot Marcus Smith said the nonprofit chose to serve World War II veterans exclusively this year.
"This year we decided we wanted to do things a little differently. Time is running out for our WWII veterans so we want to put our main focus on honoring those WWII veterans," Smith said. "Since August we have flown more than 750 WWII veterans."
Smith said the nonprofit now has six Stearman biplanes providing flights this year.
Mouche was first in the air. After being guided into the front cockpit, she donned a WWII-style flight cap and the plane took off. Mouche said she could see the entire area from up in the aircraft.
"I enjoyed it very much. I was looking down seeing the river, the dam, and all that. It was great," Mouche said. "I was very thankful they had that service and gave me the opportunity."
The crew helped Reynolds into the seat for the second flight. Smith explained the communication procedure.
"If you want to come back before I do, give me a thumbs down," Smith said.
Reynolds responded by saying, "What if I don't want you to go back? I might tell you to keep going..."
The crew laughed.
"We'll go as long as we can, alright?"
Smith did eventually have to bring Reynolds back down. She said she was thankful for the experience.
"I feel honored having so many people waiting for me and doing this for me," Reynolds said.
Smith later told 6 News they love providing the rides because it almost turns back time for the veterans.
"They come to the airplane and they are unsure about it and then they go for a flight. You can literally see their clocks spin backwards 10 or 20 years. They become reconnected with their youth and it is extremely gratifying to watch."
Smith said Dream Flights has now provided more than 5,000 rides to veterans and seniors since it began operating in 2011.