August 13th, 2021 | Company News
The Regent Vibrant Independent Living, a Legend Senior Living® residence in Wichita, Kansas, will again send senior veterans aloft for Operation September Freedom (OSF) on August 23, 2021 at Stearman Field in Benton, Kansas. This will be the fourth year for The Regent to participate, having skipped 2020 because of the pandemic. This year, the Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation, the non-profit organization that operates the Dream Flights, will focus on World War II veterans, drawing on the ever-smaller population of these retired service members.
“We have four among our Second World War vets in Legend residences who have chosen to take the flight this year. And we’re all very excited for them,” said Kylie Jefferis, Life Enrichment Coordinator at The Regent. “It’s great to be back in the copilot’s seat after our forced grounding last year. This will be the fourth Dream Flight in a row for resident and Army Air Corps vet Jack Turner, who’s 103.” The other Regent-sponsored flyers this year include Jack Grable, who at 94 is among the youngest living WWII veterans, along with Jean Gunther and Carroll Casey, residents of Legend’s Park West Plaza Assisted Living in Wichita.
The Regent sent eight veteran residents on the flights in 2019. An estimated 100,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII are still living. Ageless Aviation is making a concerted effort to search for veterans from dwindling WWII ranks to fly in OSF. Many are in long-term care.
“Imagine the thrill of flying in an airplane that you might have trained in nearly 80 years ago,” said Jefferis, pointing out that September 2nd will mark 76 years since the Japanese surrender, which ended the war.
Dream Flights brings a Boeing Stearman biplane, the primary training aircraft used by the Air Corps and Navy prewar. Nearly 11,000 of the aircraft were ordered and manufactured by Boeing Stearman in Wichita, and since have been widely used as crop-dusters, exhibition aircraft and as trainers by the armed forces of dozens of countries.
Stearman Bar and Grill is allowing The Regent to use its enclosed patio for observing the flights. Family members of the flyers and other residents are encouraged to come and support the flyers. The restaurant is also catering for the day. The first flight is scheduled for 9:00 a.m.
“Our brave war veterans are so precious to their friends at The Regent,” said Jefferis. “Everybody shares the excitement of this flight of a lifetime. We can’t wait to hear the stories when they land.”