As the rain falls in northwest suburban Wheeling, these veterans wait.
They recall stories from World War II and Korea, hoping the skies will clear for a special airplane’s take off.
They’re a force to be reckoned with-overcoming physical challenges and the weather to climb into a 1944 bi-plane for a ride back in time.
Bob Burns is almost 93 years old, but that did not stop him. The former World War II B-24 radio gunner has seen this plane before.
“Everyone who flew in the Air Corps at one time flew in a Stearman,” Burns recalled.
That’s because Boeing Stearman planes, like the 1944 one flying on Wednesday, helped train many World War II pilots. This one’s had some modifications since.
“I thought the engine was fairly big for the airplane,” Burns said after the flight.
One thing hasn’t changed: the open cockpit and passenger seat. So the wind still blows in your face.
Burns’s daughter, Jane Bonahoom, enjoyed seeing her dad reconnect with his war stories.
“He’s in his element… he loves an adventure,” she said as Burns landed.
Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation has kept memories alive and given younger vets new ones more than 2,000 times thanks to its fleet of three Stearmen planes and the generosity of pilots like Christopher Culp.
“Honor the veterans that have served our country, it’s our way of serving them,” he said.
Also on hand, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, with a salute from one generation of veterans to another.
For everyone involved, it’s an opportunity to remember, to have fun and to help our heroes soar.