The Dream Takes Flight -
Soon other dedicated volunteers joined, a board was formed, funds were raised and that first flight took to the air in May of 2005. Six small planes flew 12 very happy veterans out to Manassas, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. Vans then transported the pilots and veterans into D.C. and to the World War II Memorial. The responses from both the veterans and the pilots were overwhelming. It was an experience that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Soon other flights were planned and made. So many veterans wanted to participate that commercial aircraft were used to accommodate forty veterans at a time, including many in wheelchairs. By the end of the first year, Honor Flight had transported 137 World War II veterans to their memorial.
In 2006, commercial flights were exclusively used due to the number of veterans on the waiting list and adverse weather conditions which prohibited small aircraft from participating on a regular schedule. Locally, another 300 veterans completed the journey during that year.
Word spread. And Honor Air arrived, right on time.
The mission and ideals of the program began to spread across America. Other cities and states became aware of our efforts and we fostered working relationships with dedicated community leaders in several states. Jeff Miller in Hendersonville, North Carolina led the expansion into areas not serviced by direct commercial flights to the Washington, D.C. area. He accomplished what was thought to be impossible, organizing and obtaining funding to fly an entire commercial jet filled with local area veterans to visit the monument.
This was the beginning of Henderson County's Honor Air. On September 23rd and again on the 24th the US Airways-chartered jet was filled with World War II veterans and their guardians. Jeff repeated his success on November 4th of 2006. In less than three months, Honor Air had flown over 300 World War II veterans to D.C.! Jeff quickly shared his expertise with others, who started Honor Air programs in several other areas of the country. By the end of 2006, 891 World War II veterans across America realized their dream of visiting their memorial.
We are proud to say that (1) all of our heroes had a safe and memorable trip and (2) we were able to raise sufficient funds so that every veteran flew absolutely free.
The Future of Honor Flight. Help Us Meet Our Goal.
The future looks bright for our country's World War II veterans. In February of 2006, Earl and Jeff combined efforts and co-founded Honor Flight Network. The leaders of various flying programs, and others interested in starting similar projects in their own regions, attended a summit in Washington, D.C. with over 100 people in attendance. Now a network of participating programs is in place to assist our senior heroes. Resources are pooled, experience is shared and alliances are formed throughout America to get World War II veterans to their precious memorial safely.
Due to the senior age of our WWII heroes, and the prediction that we are losing approximately 1,000 of them daily, Honor Flight South Florida is committed to do all within our power to make their dream a reality. Our current focus will remain on World War II veterans and those veterans from any war who have a terminal illness. However, our vision goes beyond World War II. We will also pay tribute to America's other heroes who served during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, followed by veterans of more current wars. They, too, have given so much and it's time we show them that their efforts are not forgotten.
Honor Flight South Florida, Inc. understands that our veteran heroes aren't asking for recognition. It is our position that they deserve it.
Our program is just a small token of our appreciation for those that gave so much.
Help us fly a Veteran to Washington DC!