96-Year-Old War Veteran Fulfils Lifelong Dream To Fly Special Plane
Ticking this item off the bucket list has been a long time coming for 96-year-old Arthur Cornwell.
The World War II veteran is a former bomber pilot in the Royal Air Force. He was posted in French Morocco during the war, before ferrying dozens of aircraft from Britain to the Middle East.
"I was 17 when I went into the Air Force and I was 19 when I flew my first long distance flight," Cornwell said.
"I was still only 23 when I came out of the Air Force at the end of the war... I was just a boy, well most of us were, we were just kids we didn't know what the war was really about."
Despite years of experience in several different aeroplanes, one has always escaped him -- the Tiger Moth.
“I’ve wanted to fly in one of these since 1941,” he said.
"It's a paper and string aeroplane, it's so fragile, yet it was responsible for the training of hundreds and thousands of pilots during WWII.”
The 96-year-old has stayed fascinated with flying, and the staff at his Southern Cross Care retirement home helped make his longtime dream come true.
They enlisted the help of the Aero Club of WA, which donated a joyride with experienced pilot John Douglas.
It might be a little tougher for Cornwell to get into the cockpit than it used to, but the trip was certainly worthwhile.
"It was just wonderful, brought back lots and lots of memories and feeling the slipstream around my ears again, in an open cockpit, I forgot how breezy it used to be," he said after touching down.
"We didn't go very high and I'm very glad about that because there's so much to see.
"The sprawl of Fremantle and the skyline of the city in the distance, it was really amazing."
Cornwell says it's an experience he'll never forget -- and at 96, age is no barrier.
"I would have loved to have flown the thing, but of course that wasn't possible."
"I've always been surprised to reach this age, but it's better to go out with a bang than with a whimper and that's what I’ve done."