Howard DeVore, 76, had not been in a plane since he was discharged from the
Army Air Corps at the end of World War II.
The 46-year resident of Dearborn Heights, a bombardier in Europe during the war, took his first plane ride in 55 years Monday, ironically in a B-17, the same kind of aircraft he flew in World War II.
The special Labor Day excursion was a private flight sponsored by Ford Motor Co. The short flight took six people from Willow Run Airport to the Pontiac area and back to Willow Run.
DeVore's friend, Chad Childers, also a WWII Army Air Corps vet, made the opportunity possible.
"Ever since he got out of the air corps, he's refused to go up in a plane, even when a relative of ours worked for an airline and could get us free tickets," said Karol Sissom of Livonia, one of DeVore's three daughters.
"When he told us he decided to go on this flight, we said, 'Dad, you haven't been in a plane in 55 years, and now you're going up in a plane that's 65 to 70 years old?' " Sissom said.
His answer to his daughters was that he was ready for one last great adventure.
Sissom and her sisters, Cheryl Walker and Suzanne Reynolds, went out to Willow Run to see their dad off on his first plane ride in more than a half- century.
DeVore said he would have like to have sat one more time in the bombardier's space, but he had gained too much weight since his military days.
Howard was a ball-turret gunner in the 8th AF, not a bombardier. Do I look old enough to be a WWII vet? Rumor has it that I am an immortal like in the movie Highlander! Nobody in their right mind would want to sit in the ball any longer than they had to, and although the bombardier's seat is fantastic, completely surrounded by plexiglass, Howard just said "imagine that when flak's coming at you!"