Vic Wokal gets set for birthday celebration flight.
Vic Wokal (left) and pilot Joe Etchart
Like many older pilots, Vic Wokal of Glasgow, Montana, is a treasure trove of aviation stories and experiences. His daughter says she's heard hundreds of stories and seen hundreds of photographs. But one of his best stories happened just recently, after he confessed he wanted to do something special for his birthday. He wanted to go up and do a loop for each of his nine decades of life.
After getting over their initial shock, family members set about finding someone to help Wokal, a 55-year member of AOPA, make his dream come true.
"After searching for parachutes, a pilot to go with him, and an airplane to fly in—none of which were difficult to find—the moment finally arrived," his daughter, Kris Magstadt, told AOPA. "It took us about 45 minutes to get Dad into Joe Etchart's Great Lakes, but after he was strapped in, off they went. Several planes followed them up to get photos and video of this grand event. Our family watched and cheered from the ground. One, two, three, we counted—and a couple of barrel rolls added in—seven, eight, nine. As they taxied back to the hangar, we could see that smile on his face. He was like a little kid that had just seen Santa Claus. 'I'm just so glad I got to go flying on my birthday,' he said."
Wokal ran the local airport in Glasgow for many years—long enough that they named the airport for him (GGW—Wokal Field/Glasgow International). He was deeply involved in starting up the local air ambulance service.
"All of these great events and fond memories would not have happened if it weren't for his dream as a young child to fly," said daughter Kris. "I admire my dad's passion for flight and appreciate all he has taught me about living life to its fullest. He truly is an inspiration for all those with dreams—they can become reality!"