TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — For World War II veterans age can take away the feeling of freedom but a special program is helping veterans feel the freedom of flight.
An old biplane roaring in and out of Ryan Airfield Tuesday is a veteran of World War II. It has been flying men who are veterans of that war to honor their service.
This particular Stearman trainer first flew in 1942, about the same time many of these men were headed off to war.
At almost 95 years of age, Max Davis looks back and says, “During World War Two there were times I wasn’t sure I was going to come home, But I did, thank God, Thank God.”
Max Davis served in the U.S Coast Guard. It did not get as much attention as the Army, Navy and Marines but it did tough, dangerous duty, like hunting Japanese and German submarines or piloting the landing craft that brought soldiers and Marines to invasion beaches.
Finding Japanese submarines was Max Davis' job, listening for them on sonar to sink them before they could sink him and his shipmates.
“We did whatever we were asked to do and I would be glad to do it again if my country asked me.”
To thank veterans, an organization called Dream Flights eases veterans into the old Stearman, cranks up the powerful engine, and rolls out to give the vets a feel for the freedom of flight in an open air cockpit.
102-year-old Leo Fisher is retired at Splendido now. He kept P-38 fighters flying in World War II, but didn’t fly himself. He was a mechanic doing all he could to help the plane bring the pilot home safe.
He’s proud to say, “I never lost a pilot. I never lost a plane in combat.”
He says this flight was nice and smooth.
Max Davis says at first he was a little concerned about the open cockpit but enjoyed the flight. After all, he’s done many more dangerous things than ride in a time-tested aircraft.
He worries that Americans don’t grasp the dangers his generation faced to secure the world we live in today.
“They don’t understand. Sometimes when I have an opportunity I ask them, ‘What do you think your lives would be like if we World War II vets had lost the war?’ Then they start thinking.”
At the end of the flights, the veterans add their signatures to the tail of the plane, making a small mark that helps remember the large impact of their service.
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