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Changing a life for a dayChanging a life for a day

Two flight schools’ efforts to change someone’s life—if only for a day—are worth highlighting. 

In Lima, Ohio, a 90-year-old World War II veteran got an “honorary pilot license” from the local flight school. That special day included a ride in a Cessna 172, lunch, and the honorary certificate.

Donald Zimmerman had taken flying lessons as a teenager in 1944 and he had logged about 12 hours—almost enough to solo. When he graduated from high school and joined the U.S. Army, he had to stop flying.

He told a nursing home caregiver that his one regret in life was that he hadn’t become a pilot. She called the manager of Allen County Airport in Lima, and he arranged for the ride, lunch, and certificate. Zimmerman even got to fly the airplane.

Zimmerman’s son, Tom, said his dad talked about the experience for two and a half hours after he landed, according to the Lima News.

“He was beaming, he was excited, he was happy, he was proud—he was everything that you could possibly hope for in a situation like this,” said Tom Zimmerman.

Meanwhile, a flight school in California took a homeless man for a helicopter ride as part of an outreach program sponsored by a local church. Mark Robinson, chief executive officer of Revolution Aviation in Santa Ana, belongs to a church whose members wanted to raise public awareness about the lives of homeless people in Orange County, California. Robinson came up with the idea of offering free helicopter flights to homeless people and then posting a video on the church’s website, according to the Orange County Register.

Are there people in your neighborhood who could benefit from a flight? Could your flight school change someone’s life—if only for a day? 

Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.