Biplane ‘Dream Flights’ from a Bygone Era
— Operation September Freedom Visits Naples Airport to Honor Local WWII Veterans —
On September 28, four local World War II veterans visited the Naples Airport to enjoy a blast from their past. They each climbed into the front seat of a Boeing-Stearman Model 75 biplane for a 20-minute flight, with a volunteer pilot at the controls, while family members waved from the ground.
Dream Flights made these flights possible through “Operation September Freedom,” an organization and program offering WWII veterans complimentary flights in the same model of plane used to train many military aviators in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
“The Naples Airport was pleased to partner with Dream Flights to bring joy to a very special group of veterans and allow them to reenact their military service,” said Zachary Burch, the NAA’s communications & community engagement manager. “It was an incredible experience to honor these veterans that live in the Naples area by getting them in the cockpit to reconnect with their service during World War II.”
Some fun facts about the veterans that participated in Operation September Freedom at the NAA:
- One served in Normandy, France.
- All four men served as pilots, mechanics or paratroopers.
- One is 99 years young, and one has been married for 71 years.
This event is particularly special for the Naples Airport which was originally opened in 1943 as the Naples Army Airfield with a mission to train fighter pilots for service in WWII.
Dream Flights is a nonprofit honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s seniors and U.S. military veterans by taking them on an open-air flight in WWII-era biplanes. Learn more about the program here.