Texoma veterans go on dream flights, spark old memories

ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - Several veterans from Carter and Murray Counties, including 91-year-old Gene Hester, took flight at Ardmore Airport in a refurbished 1942 Boeing Stearman Friday morning, thanks to the Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation.

91-year-old Gene Hester of Davis, OK

Hester said flying in the plane brought back memories of training as a pilot at 18 years old.

"I used to fly one like that," Hester said. "It was smaller than that and didn't have all the modern instruments in it. That was in 1942."

Hester, who lives in Davis, said he spent a total of eight years in the Army and arrived in Japan two days after World War II ended.

He later trained as a paratrooper.

"I was lucky," Hester said.

Pilot Mike Sommars said Ageless Aviation partners with places like VA centers, flying more than 3000 vets free of charge since 2011.

He said the familiar sounds and feeling of flying brings back a youthful spirit and the stories start pour out.

"It's something that's totally unique, though," Sommars said. "Somehow or other it sparks a lot of old memories."

Larie Day works for Sports Clips in Gainesville, one of the sponsors fro Ageless Aviation, and said she loves honoring veterans and seeing the smiles.

"I think, for me, that's the best part, the excitement for them," Day said.

Hester said he thought the experience was interesting.

"It was kinda cool up there on your face, you know," Hester said. "It was very pleasant and I enjoyed it very much. Hopefully, I can get to do it this summer once it's a little warmer."