A WWII veteran’s special flight on an open cockpit plane

JANESVILLE, Wis. — A WWII veteran is being honored just ahead of his 97th birthday with a flight made possible by a group offering senior veterans one last ‘Dream Flight’.

Lewis Harned joined family and friends at the Janesville Jet Center Wednesday morning for a ride in a plane, the same kind as those used to train his fellow WWII veterans in the late thirties and early forties.

“This is quite an honor to be able to be honored on these flights,” Harned said.

While there was a bit of unexpected wind during the flight the Madison native said it was a special ride.

“I was not white-knuckled. I was relaxed, everything went fine but I was glad to get down,” he added.

Dream Flights volunteer pilot Andrea Cawly said these flights are not only meant to honor veterans but also bring them joy.

“You know before you take off they look back at you with just such excitement,” she said. “Even getting in the airplanes like oh my goodness I did this, this is happening.”

For Harned, getting the most out of the experience meant bringing along a photo of his late brother fighter pilot Donne Caldwell Harned on board.

“I’m sure he saw what was going on but he could hardly believe that his older brother would even get in one of these airplanes and fly,” he said. “So, in honor of my brother too.”

Dream Flights is currently working to share the experience, as a part of Operation September Freedom with than one thousand WWII veterans in more than 300 cities nationwide.