“Eddie’s experience inspired an entire community to embrace our mission of giving back to those who have given. We are humbled and grateful for the gracious and generous support the good people in Wisconsin continue to give our foundation,” said Fisher.
Lamken initiated and managed the fundraising efforts after seeing how life-changing the Dream Flight was for his dad and family. “In 2015, my dad had pulled away from life, resigned himself to a wheelchair, and basically gave up. When it came to his turn on the day of the flight, I was unsure if he’d be able to climb into the plane or if he would shut down with fear.”
With the help of Fisher and the crew, he climbed aboard the plane. Eddie didn’t know it, but Dave had arranged for Fisher to fly over Eddie’s boyhood farm about 20 miles from the airport. About half an hour after take-off, the blue and yellow Stearman appeared over the horizon and made a smooth landing. Taxiing back to the hangar apron, Dave could see that Eddie was still waving and smiling ear-to-ear.
“With very little assistance, my dad climbed out of the cockpit, down the wing, down the stepladder and, as he stood there with his cane, he was so happy he started to cry,” said Lamken. “I had the wheelchair there, so he sat down and spoke with the newspapers, did TV interviews and remarked that he was overwhelmed by getting to fly over his boyhood farm. That was the last time my father used a wheelchair.”
A 20-minute flight in the open skies does wonders for the spirit, said Fisher. “After a Dream Flight, veterans share stories never before shared with family members; they’re smiling ear to ear and have a renewed spring in their step. Family members tell us they talk about the experience for weeks after and keep the photo of themselves standing with our pilot and the Stearman nearby so they can see it.