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World War II Air Force veteran in Mountain Home, Ark. receives dream flight

Turns 100-years-old next month
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 5:42 PM CDT
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MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (KY3) - An Air Force veteran from Mountain Home turns 100-years-old next month. And Monday he was gifted with a flight to remember in the cockpit of a 1943 Boeing Stairman.

It has been several years since 99-year-old Bob Cwiak traveled in a plane. As an Air Force veteran who served in Italy during the World War II, that wasn’t always the case.

”How often were you flying?,” asked KY3′s Noah Tucker.

”As often as it was necessary,” said Cwiak.

Cwiak served as a bombadier in 62 mission across Europe.

”Over Austria, Hungary, Romania. Are mission was to bomb the facilities for making war,” said Cwiak.

Having lived 99 years you can image he’s full of stories. Like when when the mechanism he operated opened the Bombay doors, but the bombs didn’t release and fall. He left his station in the nose of the plane and crept back to the cargo area, now wide open, and manually released the bombs. The plane was at 27,000 feet altitude and he had no oxygen mask. He passed out and was rescued before falling out of the plane when a crew member dragged him back into the oxygenated area, a very close call.

Retired to Mountain Home, he spends most of his days on the ground. Dream Flights gifted Cwiak with a free flight, to thank him for all he’s done. And to no surprise, Cwiak knew exactly what aircraft.

”Oh it’s a biplane,” said Cwiak. ”History, history is being made right now.“

Dreams Flights works to give free flights to 90-year-old veterans to thank them for their service. This summer they have been focusing on World War II veterans to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

”Being a Dreams Flight pilot is the best way I’ve ever found to say thank you to the men and women who have provided the life that I get to live everyday,” said James Sims. “ My favorite part of flying with them is the moment we land and I jump out of my cockpit and swing up to the front, because nobody has gotten to see their reaction yet and they’re always excited and ecstatic.

Cwiak’s flight lasted a total of 22 minutes. To keep a lasting memory, he even signed the plane.

So see a cockpit view of the flight click here.

To learn more about Dream Flights you can go to dreamflights.org.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

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