The single engine Stearman bi-plane was parked on the flight ramp next to a large private jet at Wilmington Airport, a comparison and contrast of eighty years of flight.

The jet was picking up a business person, one of many such transactions that occur at the airport on a weekly basis.

The Stearman was giving half-a-dozen veterans a once in a lifetime opportunity to soar over New Castle County as part of Dream Flights 2023.

The flights provided by the non-profit organization were arranged with the assistance of Summit Assisted Living in Hockessin.

Dream Flight at Wilmington Airport for veterans

The Dream Flights pilot was Molly Flanagan Littlefield, whose father, Tom, a WWII instructor pilot, taught her to fly in his Army Air Corp surplus Stearman. Her husband Keith served as crew chief, assisting the vets in and out of the aircraft.

"We've been flying veterans of all services, all wars, mostly Korea and Vietnam right now," said Keith Littlefield. "Moll and I both have flown our entire lives professionally, and so we've realized this is the most worthwhile flying we've ever done."

The 'co-pilots' in the two seat Stearman included two men who were veterans of both World War II and Korea.

Don Deaven was in the Navy in World War II and the Army in Korea, but the only time he flew during his military career was flying home.

"Looks great, can't wait to take an airplane ride with the open cockpit like that," said Deaven. "I just hope to have a parachute, not that I'd know how to use it."

96-year old Army veteran Curtis Shellenberger was ready for his venture even though he had never flown in a bi-plane either.

"It's something different, exciting, I hadn't done before," said Shellenberger. "I like to do new things all the time, and I'm limited to what I can do anymore so this was a definite 'yes.'"

Dream Flights has conducted nearly 6,000 flights to date.