HANNIBAL, Mo. — Len Moss of Hannibal has a wealth of stories to share at the age of 104, and the veteran of World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War will soon have another memory to share when he takes a special flight in a WWII-era biplane as Dream Flights visits Hannibal Regional Airport on Monday.
Katie Moore, scheduler with Dream Flights, said the non-profit organization is in the midst of Operation September Freedom in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, with Japan signing the peace treaty aboard the USS Missouri. The 75th anniversary was in 2020, but COVID concerns pushed the mission to this year. From Aug. 1 to Sept. 30, the pilots in the six-plane fleet of restored biplanes will travel across the country to provide as many Dream flights to World War II veterans as possible. Everything “all came together” after Len Moss’ son Tom visited with his friend, Don Scroggs, a member of the King’s Herald Quartet and friend of the president and founder of Dream Flights, Darryl Fisher.
“I think it’s pretty neat. I didn’t have anything to do with it — we were out there in Tennessee visiting these guys in the gospel quartet, and got to talking about airplanes,” Moss said. “They had a schedule already made out for the year, and a friend of mine out there in Tennessee knows the owner personally, and asked if maybe they could put (Len Moss) in there. So they said, ‘yes.’”
Plans call for the restored 1940s Boeing Stearman biplane — an open cockpit, two-seat plane similar to what aviators like Len Moss used to train during the war — to arrive at Hannibal Regional Airport at 3 p.m. for Len Moss’ Dream Flight.
Moore said the staff runs numerous drills to ensure safety is the top priority before, during and after each flight. She was excited for the opportunity, and said Moss could be the oldest veteran they’ve had the opportunity to honor during their missions.
“We take men and women that are in their mid-90s into their 100s — when they go on that plan as men and women in their mid-90s and 100s, and they come off of it — it’s like they’re 18 again. It’s the coolest thing to see. That is the number one reason why I do what I do is just to see the look of pure joy on their faces,” she said. “They talk about it for days, weeks, months afterwards. It’s just absolutely rewarding, and it is a very special thank you for what they did for us so many moons ago.”
More information about Dream Flights and Operation September Freedom is available by visiting dreamflights.org or calling 775-291-2835.