(FORT LEAVENWORTH, Ks.) Friday morning, a 98-year-old WWII veteran took to the sky one more time in a flight to honor his service.
At Sherman Army Airfield at Fort Leavenworth, Harold Searcy took the front seat of an open cockpit of a 1943 restored Stearman biplane.
The Navy pilot of 20 years and his pilot took off down the runway and into the clear blue sky thanks to 'Operation September Freedom.'
“It’s very exciting, but I found out there’s no pilot controls in the front seat where I’m going to be riding, so that’s a little disappointing because I thought someone would let me hold the controls and make a few turns and so forth,” said Harold Searcy, WWII veteran honored in 'dream flight.'
The mission is led by Dream Flight, a national organization with the goal to honor 1,000 WWII veterans around the country with a once-in-a-lifetime flight to thank them for their service.
Despite the jokester wishing he could take the reins of the cockpit one more time, up, up and away Searcy went.
His family watched from below as dad soared once again.
“That’s pretty neat, I mean it’s hard to beat this. The Stearman was the first plane he ever flew,” said Terry Searcy, Harold's son.
However, Searcy had a special flight request in mind for what could be his final ride. The Navy pilot request to fly over Dearborn and honor his son from 3,000 feet above.
“We buried my brother last week at Dearborn cemetery and he would like to take his last flight over the cemetery and salut,” said Terry Searcy.
During his 20 minute flight, Searcy saluted his son up above the clouds.
On the ground, one final touch on the Navy pilot's special day. Searcy signed the tail of the airplane to permanently leave his mark on history.
With over 100 hours the WWII vet clocked in flying in the Navy, Searcy said this flight was not only once-in-a-lifetime, but it was his most cherished.
“That’s the climax of my flying career, period,” said Searcy.
Dream Flights has honored 334 WWII heroes since the start of Operation September Freedom which began August 1st. Their goal is to finish the mission by September 30th.