3-time war pilot takes final flight

Posted at 9:56 AM, Sep 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-04 09:56:19-04

OLATHE, KS (WDAF/CNN) - A 91-year-old war pilot once again takes to the skies, for a final flight. It was an emotional experience, one that will never be forgotten by him or his family.

"I never did want to go someplace in an airplane," said veteran Sam Northway. "I just liked to fly."

Northway's been in love with airplanes since he was a kid.

"The Earth looks beautiful when you're flying over it, looking down," he said. "It doesn't look like that when you're on the ground looking at it."

Northway proudly served the country as a Navy pilot and seaman in World War II.

"I got about a sea bag full of one-a-day letters from my sweetie, and they're in the bottom of Pearl Harbor," he said.

But the heartache of war didn't stop his passion for flight. He joined the Air Force, serving through both the Korean and Vietnam war eras, and the sight of a vintage bi-plane still catches his eye.

Now 91, he knows there aren't too many more chances for takeoff. Staff at Crossroads Hospice and Palliative Care know Northway's love for the skies.

And with a little help from the Commemorative Air Force, they were able to pull off a last wish to take flight through their "gift for a day" program.

"It means the world to me," said his daughter, Judy Northway. "The last year for him hasn't been real great health-wise, and so for him to be able to do this is such a treat for him, and he deserves it greatly."

His chariot - World War II Army bi-plane. Taking off these days  is a bit more challenging, but once snapped into the seat and helmet secured, it was like no time had passed.

Even a half-hour ride soaring above the Kansas skies was breathtaking and more emotional than he expected.

"I never thought that I would be doing something like this at 91, I sure didn't," he said.

It was a perfect "thank you" for decades of service, and it left loved ones with priceless memories.

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