OGDEN -- Clair Allen gave a big thumbs up and a huge smile to a group of senior citizens gathered Tuesday morning at Ogden-Hinckley Airport.
As he lifted his leg over the side of the Boeing Stearman Primary Trainer 17, a former military training two-seater airplane, he needed a little help to get his balance.
"It's been a long time since I've gotten out of one of these," he said.
In fact, it had been about 60 years.
Allen and Missy Allred, both residents of Legacy House Assisted Living in Ogden, were treated to a morning flight courtesy of Ageless Aviation Dreams, a nonprofit group that specializes in taking seniors, especially veterans, on flights. The group is based out of Carson City, Nev.
Allen, 82, was given the opportunity by Darryl Fisher, the organization's founder, to "take the sticks" for a few minutes.
Allen served in the Air Force from 1948 to 1949 and flew a variety of planes, ranging from Cessnas to PT-17s. But he said he was only along for the ride on Tuesday.
"I didn't want to wreck a good day," he said, laughing about choosing not to pilot the plane.
"It was one of the smoothest rides I've been on," he said several times.
Her husband, Frank, was a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force and flew on training missions during World War II. Allred said she was thrilled at the chance to honor her husband, who died two years ago.
"When I got up there, I said, 'This is for you, Frank,' " she said.
Allred, 87, said she loved every minute.
"He told me to give him the thumbs up if I was good and the thumbs down if I wanted to land. We were all thumbs up," she said of the pilot.
Some friends from Legacy House, as well as her two daughters, watched her fly.
"I was just excited and enjoyed being up there with the sky," Allred said.
Fisher said he had the plane, which has been part of his family for many years, restored last year. The plane has the same type of setup it had in the training missions in the 1940s, without a lot of bells and whistles. That is also what many of those going on the flights are familiar with, he said.
Fisher said he loves honoring veterans and their families and never hesitates to pass along a thank-you for their service.
"It's because of you that I have the freedom to do this and fly around," Fisher said as he shook Allen's hand.
Allen felt humbled at Fisher's words.
"Well, we all have to do something," he said.
Jackie Achter, recreation director for Legacy House, said she got a call from Fisher, who told her about his organization. Achter put the word out to the residents who were either veterans or closely related to a veteran. The center had a drawing for the winners.
"This has been a really neat thing," Achter said as she looked at the cluster of seniors who came out to see their friends fly.