PHOENIX — A local organization gave a WWII veteran a birthday celebration he won’t soon forget, flying him high above the Valley in an aircraft that helped save the world.
A Falcon Field flight crew took Norman Langeliers up in a Fairchild PT 26 for his 94th birthday. For this WWII vet, it was a fitting celebration. The aircraft was used to train pilots during the war that is credited with saving the world. Only three examples of the exact model remain airworthy.
“I’m just overwhelmed, appreciative. Surprising,” Langeliers said.
He served in the Navy and was stationed on the USS Indianapolis. It is the ship that transported one of the atomic bombs used against Japan. As a result, he was required to undergo radiation tests for 25 years.
“I had somebody ask me, ‘Were you afraid?’ And I said, ‘When you’re young, you’re too damn dumb to be afraid,’” Langeliers said, causing the crowd to erupt in laughter.
Tony Anger owns and pilots the plane. He started the non-profit “Grounded No More” as a way to give back to those who served our country.
“We’ve met some amazing people, taken up vets as old as 100-years-old and a gold star child who was only three,” Anger said. It’s just been an amazing way for us to meet some of my heroes.”
Norman’s birthday came with much fanfare. With American flags lining the runway, people’s appreciation for his service and life was palpable.
Grounded No More operates every weekend. It runs on donations and accepts virtually all volunteers.
If you are interested in getting involved, head to https://groundednomoreveteranflightlift.com/.