York County Man Fulfills a High-Flying Dream

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For 79-year old Ralph Sutton, the pre-flight briefing and inspection was like catching up with an old friend. It was a chance to fulfill a late-in-life dream of once again flying a plane.

“This is where you’ll be sitting and I’ll have a head set for you,” flight instructor Heskel Burnstein explained to Sutton.

This was not a routine flight. It was a special opportunity made possible by the “Second Wind Dreams” program of Elmcroft personal care community in Dillsburg and the “Harrisburg Pilots” flight school.

“Flying is very special,” said Burnstein. “A lot of people never do it, but everyone should try it. This is someone who wants to do it and the dream is still there.”

It was forty years ago when Sutton put his love for flying on hold for a career as an iron worker. And now, he was more than ready to return to the cockpit.

Dashing across the tarmac to the plane, Sutton added: “When they told me we were going to go flying, that was everything right there.”

After a thorough check of cockpit instruments and harnesses, it was up, up and away for Sutton and his dream. The flight time for this unique journey was just under a half-hour, but the memory will last forever.

“When you get off the ground, it puts you in a whole different feeling,” said Sutton getting out of the cockpit. “Oh man! It was better than Christmas. The landing and the take off were the two best parts.”

Elmcroft Community Relations Director Melissa Kaylor says every resident is offered a chance to fulfill a dream activity and in Sutton’s case, there was no doubt what he wanted.

“Flying is the one thing he wanted to do one more time,” said Kaylor. “So, being able to do this for him was the perfect thing today.”

As Sutton was heading back to the hangar after the flight, someone asked, “Would you do it again?” His response was quick and definite. “I’d do it every day if I could,” he replied with a hardy laugh. Heading back to the hangar with a wide grin

So, on this special flight, changes in altitude proved good for the attitude.

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