PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A 101-year-old Pensacola World War II veteran was gifted Tuesday with a bucket list flight in the aircraft he flew during the war.
Dick Pace, a Navy veteran born in 1919, took flight today in Pensacola, thanks to the GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team.
He flew in one of the Skytypers’ WWII SN-Js, the Navy’s equivalent of the T-6 Texan.
Pace was helped into the aircraft by family and the Skytypers team. He told WKRG News 5 before the flight he was excited to fly.
“This is the kind of plane we have in the Navy,” Pace said. “That plane will take you anywhere you want to go and do anything you want. You can count on it.”
He smiled and waved back to his family as the plane began to roll down the runway.
Pace was a U.S. Navy fighter pilot, flying the Grumman F6F HELLCAT in WWII. His family said he was based in Saipan in 1944. Pace was a skilled pilot in the Navy and became an instructor pilot in the SN-J aircraft.
His daughter Marcia Lindstrom calls her father a “treasure.” At 101, Pace is still in great shape. Lindstrom said he still drives his V-12 Mercedes 600SL every day to his office in downtown Pensacola.
“For a 101-year-old former pilot from World War II to have this opportunity on a beautiful day to go up in the plane that he trained in is so marvelous for him,” she said.
After recently losing his wife of 77 years, Tuesday’s flight in Pensacola made Pace and his family smile.