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Area seniors, veterans can soar in WW II era aircraft as dream flights come to Darlington

Giving back to those who have given.

That’s the motto and mission of the Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Carson City, Nevada, with the aim of honoring seniors — particularly veterans — by offering free flights in vintage World War II-era aircraft.

The Boeing Stearman open cockpit biplane was used to train military aviators many years ago, and the AADF has three fully restored planes, explained Mike Beckham of Darlington, who is helping to coordinate the dream flights slated for Wednesday, Thursday andFriday at Branhams Airport in Darlington.

One of those planes will be available to take seniors and veterans for free “dream flights,” Beckham said.

“It’s a fantastic aircraft,” the Darlington native said. “It reminds me of the old Snoopy and Red Baron aircraft.”

Once Beckham got a call that he needed to help get the word out, he jumped at the opportunity.

“Being retired military, I just got on the phone and started calling,” he said. “These are the planes you see in the Smithsonian (National Air and Space Museum) and in history books.”

More than 10,000 Stearman trainers were built by Boeing, according to the Smithsonian’s website, and these aircraft helped serve as one of three models comprising the “backbone” of U.S. Army and Navy primary training in WW II.

Beckham’s love of aircraft was borne from his time serving as an assistant medical director in the Air National Guard at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, just south of Columbia.

“Being around the F-16 aircraft, I loved it so much,” he said.

His father served in the Pacific Theater in WW II, and Beckham recalls his stoicism.

“He never wanted to talk about it,” he said. “What he endured and what he went though, people need to realize war is a terrible thing and we need to learn from those who’ve been in it.”

Beckham is excited about the prospect of helping facilitate a dream flight for what he and many people refer to as the “greatest generation,” for their sacrifices and willingness to help the war effort.

“I think it’s going to be exciting,” he said.

For more information, contact Beckham at 843-319-2764.

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