Residents of a Takanini retirement village have been treated to an exciting sightseeing flight on a Douglas DC3 aircraft.
The special trip marked the recent 20th anniversary of Metlifecare’s Longford Park Village, with 71 residents taking off from Ardmore Airport and flying over Clevedon, Brookby and Whitford, and other parts of Auckland.
Bearing Royal New Zealand Air Force insignia, the 73-year-old plane was repainted to represent an aircraft from one of the squadrons.
On board were retired pilots Lew and Doreen Day, village residents of 18 years.
Having flown in wars at different places around the world and also at home in NZ, 94-year-old Lew enjoyed the DC3 experience.
“It’s much better being up at the front. You can see more,” Lew says, with a smile.
He started his career as a combat pilot in World War II, serving from 1942-1946. A year later, he settled in the United Kingdom with his new wife Doreen and served in the Royal Air Force during the Cold War.
He was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in the Korean War.
Returning to New Zealand in 1962, Lew was involved with the aero club in Gore, then Auckland Aero Club, and helped set up the now former Waitemata Aero Club at Ardmore in South-East Auckland, where Doreen, who devoted her time to raising their three sons, also qualified for her private pilot’s license.
When retired, Lew volunteered for Search and Rescue transporting people who needed urgent attention, and partially motivated by his love for flying.
Because the emergencies usually happened at night-time, Doreen was often home alone. For company and safety, they decided to move to the Takanini retirement village.
Lew stopped flying when he was 77, and the couple feels happy they’ve made many enduring memories because of flying.
Doreen says she was overwhelmed when the village said it had organised the flight.
“We really enjoyed it. It was just wonderful. What a fantastic thing for them to do.”
It delighted village manager Jane Gregory that all the seniors had a good time.
“We wanted to do something really special for them, making it a real celebration, and the residents absolutely loved it.”