Northeast Florida memory-care residents with military ties take to the air in WWII biplane – Florida Times-Union
A group of residents from Jacksonville memory-care facilities took turns climbing into the cockpit of a World War II-era biplane Tuesday for a chance to fly like they would have in the 1940s.
The day was full of patriotism as voters chose the next president of the United States with Veterans Day just a few days away, so the caretakers selected residents with ties to the military to go up in the plane.
Ed Kissam had one last thing to say to his longtime girlfriend before taking off in the Boeing Stearman aircraft built in 1940 that was used to train aviators during the war.
“I love you,” Kissam said to B.J. Summerlin as she leaned in next to the plane. She wasn’t surprised and simply replied, “I know you do.”
The 91-year-old Marine veteran sat in the front seat with Mike Winterboer of Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation ready to work the controls behind him.
Kissam smiled and waved to Summerlin and others from the Arbor Terrace assisted-living community as the plane left the First Coast Flight Center and headed down the runway at Herlong Recreational Airport.
Summerlin talked about how proud Kissam is of his time serving in the Marines during World War II as her companion circled the sky above the airport.
Kissam was the first orthopedic surgeon in Gainesville and the first doctor with an integrated waiting room in the county, Summerlin said. She said he was also the team doctor for the University of Florida football team when Steve Spurrier was the quarterback in the 1960s.
“He was always more proud of being a Marine than he was of being a doctor,” Summerlin said, despite all the former players who have approached him over the years.
Summerlin said Kissam was just 16 years old when he