Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation (AADF), a non-profit that honors U.S. military veterans with free Dream Flights, is adding a restored 1943 Stearman biplane to its fleet, thanks to the fundraising efforts of a community in Wisconsin.
Since 2011, AADF has given more than 3,700 Dream Flights to veterans and seniors living in long-term care communities. The Spirit of Wisconsin will be based at Stevens Point Municipal Airport (KSTE) in Wisconsin, a “fitting home,” said Darryl Fisher, AADF founder and president.
“Stevens Point is where we saw the magic of a Dream Flight transform one of our Dream Flyers, a then 91-year-old World War II veteran named Eddie Lamken,” Fisher recalls. “The experience inspired a family and a community to embrace our foundation and our mission.”
Stevens Point resident David Lamken, Eddie’s son, initiated and led a two-year fundraising campaign to raise more than $125,000 to purchase the biplane. In addition to personal and corporate donations and proceeds from annual golf tournaments, AADF’s primary sponsor Sport Clips jumpstarted the campaign with a generous donation, as did AADF sponsors Direct Supply and MatrixCare.
On June 19, 2019, AADF will dedicate the Spirit of Wisconsin and give the inaugural Dream Flight to Eddie Lamken. This flight kicks off a statewide Dedication Tour that culminates at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019 on July 26.
About the Spirit of Wisconsin
The Stearman was stationed at the Minneapolis Saint Paul Joint Air Reserve Station in 1943 and used to train military aviators during World War II. The plane was transferred to Texas after six months and used to train aviators there until the war ended.
Aviator and Stearman enthusiast Roland Garlinghouse purchased the plane in 1991 and brought it home to Arkansas. He restored the plane and used it to travel locally and to vintage aircraft gatherings as far away as upstate New York. In later years, he gave flights to his neighboring retired naval aviators.
“Stearman owners never really feel like they own their airplane. We’re just stewards,” said Garlinghouse. “When I heard about Ageless Aviation and that Darryl was looking for a Stearman, it struck me that AADF might be a great place for my plane.”