Veteran honored in 'fantastic' flight with aerobatic champ

Ready for take-off. Korean War veteran Richard "Dick" Walters of Bath gives the thumbs-up before his flight with aerobatic pilot Rob Holland on Friday. The "Honor Flight" is a program Holland started to thank veterans.

by Courtney Weimar

Champion aerobatic pilot Rob Holland honored Korean War veteran Richard "Dick" Walters of Bath through Holland's "Hero Flight" program. The program, created in 2010, provides rides to veterans as a way to thank them for their service. Holland noted this is the 12th or 13th flight this year. "This is one of the best parts of the job... it's hard to call it a job," Holland said.

Walters was nominated by his wife Ruth due to his efforts at the VA Medical Center in Bath. He volunteers with the hospice unit by sitting with veterans who don't have any family or those who are waiting for family to arrive. 

"I am excited. I couldn't believe it happened," said Ruth. "He is very veteran oriented". 

Walters served 12 years in the military - five years in the Navy and seven in the Army. He attempted to join other branches of the military, but various factors prevented that possibility. "I just wanted to experience them all," he said.

The intensity of a Hero Flight varies based upon the veteran's preference. Walters was willing to try various maneuvers - including loops and rolls. 

"That was fantastic," Walters said immediately after landing.

When asked about his favorite part, he enthusiastically replied, "All of it!"

The Rob Holland Ultimate Airshows Facebook page included the post: "We want to sincerely thank Mr. Walters for his service to our country and his ongoing support of veterans with the VA. Thanks so much for flying with us!"

Holland is a nine-time national and three-time world champion aerobatic pilot. He is scheduled to perform in more than 20 airshows this year.

The Honor Flight was originally scheduled to take place on Thursday afternoon, but was moved to Friday morning due to rain.

The Honor Flight program is sponsored by Window World. 

Originally printed in the Livingston County News. Photo by Alexandra Shipman