This article was originally published on NJTVonline.org
August 8, 2017
Nonprofit gives veterans a chance to fly in WWII planes
By Leah Mishkin, Correspondent
Ninety-year-old Angelo Caggniano is a man who served in the Navy during WWII. He said this is his first trip on a 1940s plane. It’s a chance to travel back in time.
Ret. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Tim Newton is a volunteer for the Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation. It’s a group that partners with nursing homes across the country to take veterans on a dream flight.
When it comes to 94-year-old George McGinnis, who was a pilot in the Army Air Corps during WWII, he was ready to go.
“He hasn’t flown since he was 22 — over 70 years ago,” Newton said. “He was just ecstatic and he did fantastic. He flew flawlessly.”
“It’s something else. There’s nothing like it,” McGinnis said. “This is a dream, this is a bucket list thing that you dream about.”
McGinnis not only got to be a pilot, but he got to share memories with Newton — his co-pilot for the day.
“He gets the fun because he gets to hear stories that have been building up in my mind,” McGinnis said.
“My war stories are nothing compared to their war stories and I love hearing them,” Newton added.
Like the time McGinnis limped a B-17 back to a base.
“On the bomb run, and all of a sudden all Hell broke loose and I lost the number three engine, the number four engine, the number one engine was leaking oil. I lost the hydraulics system, lost the electrical system and was losing altitude. And we’re 400 miles away from home,” McGinnis recalled.
“He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for that event, and that’s just heroic. I mean, they could have all bailed out,” Newton added.
Heroes, he says, that all deserve to feel like a kid again.
“We do it because we like doing it and it’s the right thing to do to say thank you to them for what they did for us. They saved the world and we don’t want that to be forgotten,” Newton said.