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Local WWII veterans honored in ‘dream flight’

WWII veterans on the Suncoast take to the sky.
WWII veterans on the Suncoast take to the sky.(WWSB)
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 6:31 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A group of local World War II veterans were treated for a trip of a lifetime on Wednesday, catching a ride in a WWII-era biplane at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport.

First up, was Peter Tominelli, also known as “Chip.” “I’m excited!” he said.

Next month, he’ll be celebrating his 100th birthday. When ABC7 asked him what is the secret to be 100, he answered, “I wish I knew!”

The Army veteran served at the Island of Espiritu Santo in the Gulf of California, and now he’s taking flight in a warplane once again.

Just like him, his buddies Joe and Melvin had their turns in the N2S-3 Stearman, the U.S.’s primary trainer during the war. All three live at Cypress Springs in Lakewood Ranch. “I’ve never been in a biplane,” said Joe Abrams.

However, before takeoff, there was a surprise. A Southwest Airline flight that was scheduled to go first, but the pilot of that plane let them pass as a way of thanking them for their service.

“We’re here to say thank you in a unique way,” said Darryl Fisher, Founder and pilot of Dream Flights.

This flight was part of Operation September Freedom. “This is the last mission to honor WWII veterans nationally that will happen,” he said.

As for Chip, this is a birthday to remember. “I’m excited, I never thought I will get this far in life,” he said.

For more information on Dream Flights, click here.

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