‘Anyone particular for our five hundredth experience’: 100-year-old WWII veteran flies with Grounded No Extra

Wearing the identical flight go well with he wore in World Battle II, 100-year-old
Ted Giannone stepped right into a vivid yellow Fairchild PT-26 coach airplane
late final month, changing into Grounded No Extra’s five hundredth rider.

For half-hour, Tony Anger, proprietor and founding father of the Mesa-based
nonprofit Grounded No Extra, flew Giannone round east Mesa and the
Superstition Mountains.

Since 2016, he has flown a whole bunch of veterans on such “honor flights” freed from cost, with assist from donations.

Grounded No Extra was an “unintentional ministry,” as Anger places it.

Whereas working for the Commemorative Air Drive at Falcon Discipline, which
presents public rides in classic warplanes, Anger met a younger man who
needed to fly in a B-17 to honor his grandfather, who flew a “Flying
Fortress” in World Battle II.

“It was a terrific story proper up till he went to pay,” Anger recalled.
“The woman mentioned, ‘Thanks, that shall be $425. … Should you’ve ever been in
the army, you already know that $425 might be what you’re taking dwelling each

As a substitute, Anger provided to fly the person in his Fairchild – dubbed “Superb Grace” – totally free.

After a dialog along with his spouse, Karen, Anger began Grounded No Extra and started taking veterans on honor flights in 2016.

Earlier this 12 months, whereas Anger was checking the log books, he observed the group was approaching its five hundredth flight.

“We had been trying particularly for any individual particular for our five hundredth experience,” Anger mentioned.

That’s when he heard about Giannone.

In 1940, shortly after he was eligible to enlist, Giannone joined the
Navy as an plane mechanic and gunner on a TBF Avenger torpedo
bomber. He served about 30 years, lively responsibility and Navy Reserve mixed,
and labored for the aerospace firm Grumman as a field-based
administrator constructing the lunar module.

On Oct. 30, he added one other honor to the checklist: Grounded No Extra’s
18th World Battle II veteran and fourth centenarian to take an honor

Dozens of individuals gathered at Falcon Discipline Airport to assist Giannone and Grounded No Extra.

“All of that is so unbelievable,” Giannone mentioned. “And for a man like me? I’m only a man, nothing particular.”

That assertion was rapidly adopted up with disagreements among the many crowd.

Like many veterans Anger flies, Giannone hadn’t been in a army airplane in years.

“One factor I’ve observed about these veterans, particularly the older
ones, they rise up in that airplane they usually’re sluggish getting in,” Anger
mentioned, “however once they bounce out, they’ve gone from 100 years outdated again to
an 18-year-old.”

And, positive sufficient, Giannone landed with a mile-wide grin and each arms within the air.