May 16, 2011
She thought she’d like to fly again. And so she flew. Helene Dax, 87, a former pilot, had filled out a survey form at the Brookdale Senior Living center where she lives in Denver. Brookdale, which caters to people challenged with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and Jeremy Bloom’s Wish of a Lifetime foundation invited Dax and others to submit a wish for an experience they’d like to have fulfilled. The experience had to relate to one or more of six dimensions in the company’s Optimum Life concept: emotional, social, physical, intellectual, spiritual, and purposeful.
An idea came easily to Dax, who as a teenager during World War II had worked air traffic control in Chicago. She earned her pilot’s license at 26, and says the only part that scared her about flying was cranking the propeller to start the engine. Flying is in her blood as much today as it was then.
Brookdale and Bloom’s foundation thought her wish was especially compelling due to the fact that she was a pioneer for women in aviation, and was best friends with Emily Warner, the first woman airline pilot at Frontier Airlines. Warner was invited along for the ride.
On Tuesday, May 10, a pilot from McAir Aviation took the two women up in a Cessna 172 out of Broomfield, Colorado. Dax rode in the front seat next to the pilot, who handed over the controls to her for a few minutes.
“It was very pleasant, a beautiful day, and so much fun riding in the plane,” says Dax. “Just like it was before. I loved every minute, and am grateful for another experience flying. Thank you everyone.”
The weather nonetheless provided a touch of adventure: winds picked up during the flight, which required a slightly tricky landing in some cross winds.
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