Veteran WWII pilot takes final flight thanks to organization

By Daniel Hight - email

OLIVE BRANCH, MS (WMC-TV) - An 88-year-old veteran World War II pilot took his final flight Wednesday.

Doyle Johnson flew 68 dangerous missions over the Himalayas.  He has not flown in 26 years.

Craig Johnson, Doyle's son, said flying has been his father's love for 67 years.

"Flying was his life ever since he was in junior college at Shanook, Kansas to when he retired," Craig Johnson said.

After Doyle Johnson retired, the Mid-South man never again took to the skies.

"This is something that has been an empty hole for a long time," Craig Johnson said.  "He didn't begrudge it, but he missed it."

Rose Terrace, where Doyle Johnson lives, sought the help of the organization Forever Young Senior Wish to help fill that empty hole.

Organizers wanted to surprise him.

"He didn't know what to think," said Craig Johnson.  "He knew something was happening when I told him to change his pants and shirt and we had to go for a ride."

He took a limo to the Olive Branch Airport.  It was there that his final wish was fulfilled.

After a few tears and a little help into the cockpit, Doyle Johnson once again took to the skies.

When asked if he tried to pull any tricks while in the air, Doyle Johnson said, "I had passengers in the backseat."

Doyle Johnson's son and grandson drove from Roanoke, Virginia for the occasion.

"Would not miss this for the world," said Caleb Johnson, Doyle's grandson.

Caleb Johnson could not recall the plane rides he took with his grandfather as a boy, but he got to share this final flight.

"It was absolutely amazing for me to ride along with him," Caleb Johnson said.  "It's a huge part of his life and it's the closest I can be to being a part of it."

For more information on Forever Young Senior Wish, click here.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.