Lake Oswego veterans fly in plane built to train WWII pilots
Seven local veterans between the ages of 85 and 95 had an opportunity to take dream flights last month.
The veterans, who reside at The Springs at Carman Oaks — a senior living facility in Lake Oswego — were chosen to fly in a 1943 Boeing Stearman bi-plane at the McMinnville Airport Sept. 20.
Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation was the nonprofit organization that provided the flights for the veterans in planes that were originally built to train WWII pilots. Ageless Aviation has given 4,106 flights to date and is dedicated to honoring United States military veterans who live in long-term care facilities.
For Michael Mogilevsky, this wasn't his first time flying in this type of plane — he flew in one with his mother in Japan when he was 6.
"We were both sitting in the front seat," Mogilevsky said. "It was nice and quiet and there was no turbulence. It was very peaceful."
Mogilevsky served in the U.S. Air Force from 1952-1956. He was born in Indonesia and his parents were Russian refugees from WWI.
He grew up in Japan and learned English at an American school while his parents were working as musicians.
Mogilevsky enlisted in the Air Force when he was 22 and learned how to work on aircraft engines and electrical systems. He served active duty for four years before transferring into the Air Force Reserve.
So when he had the chance to come full circle and fly in the bi-plane that reminded him of his childhood with his mother, Mogilevsky said it was a "terrific" experience.
Similarly, Jim Baker — who served in the United States Navy — had also flown in the same type of bi-plane with his family when he was a child. He said flying in the cockpit of the 1943 Boeing was an enjoyable experience from start to finish.
"It was interesting to be able to fly in the plane. They took us out for a nice, short flight and the pilot of the plane was willing to do whatever we wanted to make us feel comfortable — so he didn't turn over," Baker said.
Baker enlisted in the Navy when he was 17 and served in the Navy as Seaman First Class during WWII locating German submarines for a year and a half "before they kicked me out," he said, adding that "They let me play with the guns in Korea." Later, after Baker was discharged from the Navy, he was commissioned into the U.S. Army and worked his way up to first lieutenant.
In the Army he was a company commander of a rifle company in Korea and received the Purple Heart for a piece of shrapnel that was lodged in his leg when he was on patrol in Korea and ran into "a bit of action."
For Baker, it was a real honor to have flown in the bi-plane. He said it ignited a curiosity about what was going on down below him.
"I think that the bi-plane ride was worthwhile because everybody was a comrade again out there and they treated us very well. I'd want to go again," Baker said.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.