Saturday, May 12, 2012
Phil Blake has dedicated countless hours to maintain Veterans Memorial Park in Wichita. Today, fellow veterans helped grant him a wish.
"Makes me feel warm all over. Sometimes, overwhelmed," said Phil.
It has been nearly 70 years since the former World War II soldier built landing gears for planes like the T-50.
"I used to occasionally go down to the flight line and take a hop with the airplanes, the T-50s when they were test flying them," said Phil. "Always had a warm spot in my heart for them."
Fellow veteran, Herb Duncan, overheard this. He got his fellow volunteers in the Jayhawk Wing of the Commemorative Air Force to help grant Phil his wish.
"We make a lot of wishes come true. It's like Make-A-Wish Foundation, expect we do it for veterans, they do it for children and other people with medical infirmities. So, we do it for veterans and have fun," said John Bartholomew, pilot with the group.
The Commemorative Air Force group is dedicated to preserving and flying restored World War II combat aircraft.
"A lot of veterans like seeing the old airplanes fly again. The airplane is like a part of them. They're reliving their youth, so they get the option of trying it all over again," said Bartholomew.
The 88-year-old and his 24-year-old grandson shared the experience together aboard a 1943 Vintage Cessna UC-78 Bobcat.
"I'm really surprised and excited that he's going to get to go up," said Kyle Auchterlonie, grandson.
Phil said there are still a few things on his bucket list and they mainly focus around the place he loves to serve.
"I want to finish the veterans projects that I'm working on now. The World War II is almost complete," he said.