Travel Agent Helps Veteran Pilots Fly One Last Time

Travel Agent Helps Veteran Pilots Fly One Last Time

Travel Agent Helps Veteran Pilots Fly One Last Time

Everyday Heroes, Featured Articles

You know what they say: “once a pilot, always a pilot.” This much is certainly true for 90-year-old Jack Henderson, who served as a Petty officer fist class and later became a civilian pilot. His buddies at his assisted living facility in Oregon, David Crawford (a Navy radio operator) and Dick Snider (a US Army veteran), get it. They’re former pilots too.

It’s been a long time since any of them were able to fly. The trio often reminisces about the good old days of being up in the air, and in their old age dream of a “last hurrah” in the sky.

The Reno Air Races was to be that outlet. The annual event that shows off a variety of aviation innovations sounded perfect to Henderson, who made the executive decision to call a travel agent and learn more about sending his friends, and himself, to the show.

The Reno Air Race. Credit: Antoine Roels.

But travel agent, Julie Pflaumer, had bad news. Tickets to the event wouldn’t be available until later this year.

Disappointed, Henderson thought, “Well, I might not even be around by the time they’re available.”

Though attending the upcoming show wasn’t in the cards this time, Pflaumer felt inspired to make something happen for these three American heroes. After a bit of research, she found something that might work– AeroLegengs Biplane Rides, a bi-plane experience right in the town where the three men live. Instead of watching planes in the sky, she could send them to it.

After putting in her own donation to the cause, Pflaumer posted her idea in a Facebook group for travel agents. Donations shot up to $1,100, more than covering the cost of the experience for the three veterans. She presented the gift certificates to the nonagenarians in March, who were floored.

 “Most of us had to go change our britches,” Henderson jokes. “It was such an unexpected, pleasant surprise.”

The three veterans. Credit: SWNS.
For Dick Crawford, the excursion meant even more. Since his wife’s death, he’d wanted to fly with the company to spread her ashes, but hadn’t gotten the chance. Now, he could finally fulfill that dream.

Julie Pflaumer didn’t perform the good deed in hopes of finding praise. “The biggest thing for me is being able to bring that happiness to people of being able to do something they didn’t think they could,” she says.

With these three veterans, that was exactly what Pflaumer achieved.






About The Author

Emmanuel Zalikofsky

Emmanual Zalikofsky is a poet and a writer from Chicago. When he is not covering inspiring stories he is watching curling and dancing the tango.