Aero Club members hear about WWII Honor Flights

Art Sloan receives memoriam from club president Walch

Art Sloan, a retired Coast Guard Master Chief Petty officer, was guest speaker at the Sun Lakes Aero Club meeting November 15. Sloan described his experience as a guardian who accompanied World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. on a flight sponsored by the WW II Honor Flight Network. The organization is designed to transport WWII vets to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices. Sloan participated in an Honor Flight from Tucson, describing a strenuous three-day experience that began at 5 a.m. each day. While in D.C., the group visited the WWII Memorial, Viet Nam Memorial, FBI Memorial, Navy Memorial, Marine Memorial, and the Coast Guard Memorial. It was fascinating to talk to the veterans and hear of their experiences, he said.

The Honor Flight Network dates back to 2005, when six small aircraft flew out of Springfield, Ohio taking 12 WWII veterans on a visit to the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. By 2006, commercial flights were exclusively used due to the number of veterans on the waiting list and adverse weather conditions which prohibited small aircraft from participating on a regular schedule. By 2009, the program had safely transported almost 18,000 veterans to see the memorials at no cost. In the future, the program will be expanded to included Korean War and Viet Nam veteran .

Sloan said that typically, during trips, veterans are divided into groups of eight and three guardians are assigned to each group. Veterans fly free of charge. Guardians pay a fee depending on the city of departure. Sloan paid a $750 fee for the flight departing from Tucson.

Sloan said about 500 veterans are on the waiting list for participation in the program. Veterans and guardians interested in participating in the program are encouraged to contact Sloan at 480-802-6810.

Now in its 15th year, the Sun Lakes Aero Club meets the third Monday of each month from October through May at the Sun Lakes Country Club. More information on the club is available from Bob Walch, 480-895-8869 or Al Galvi, 480-802-0104.