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Local WWII veteran to be honored with a Dream Flight in vintage plane 

Robert Hager takes Dream Flight

Robert Hager, WWII Navy veteran, looking forward to his special flight in a 1946 WWII biplane.

‘I love to fly,’ veteran says

–Robert Hager of Paso Robles, a 95-year old World War II Navy veteran is being honored Wednesday with a Dream Flight in a vintage WWII biplane.

Hager served in the Navy for three years from the ages of 17-20 and was discharged in 1946 with the rank of SKT 3/c, which stands for Storekeeper Technical Third Class. “Which means I dealt with parts for submarines. I did not deal with pencils, toilet paper, et cetera,” said Hager.

When asked about the flight, Hager said, “I love to fly. I have a pilot’s license and I’ve never flown that type of plane before. I’m looking forward to this flight with great anticipation.”

“I heard about these flights somewhere,” said Debbie Brown, Hager’s daughter. “I applied for him then lost track of time. The next thing I know we get a call and the flight is scheduled.”

Dream Flight Paso Robles

1946 Boeing Stearman biplane arriving in Paso Robles Sept 29. Photo courtesy Dream Flight website.

“The Stearman is a WWII training plane,” said Vickie Matso of Dream Flights. “The flight takes 45 minutes to an hour. It’s such a tremendous experience to see the joy on veterans’ faces when they participate in these flights.”

Dream Flights is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring military veterans and seniors with the opportunity to take a flight in a vintage Boeing Stearman biplane. Operation September Freedom is the organization’s national effort to honor as many WWII veterans as possible with free flights in 2021.

The black and white checkered Stearman coming to Paso Robles was built in 1946 by Boeing in Wichita, Kansas. Commissioned by the Army, it was loaned to the Navy and flew out of Naval Air Stations in New Orleans, St. Louis, Dallas and Clinton, OK. Fully restored around 2009 the plane took its first Dream Flight in 2011.

The flight is scheduled to take off a 9 a.m. from the ACI Jet runway at the Paso Robles Airport on Wed, Sept 29.

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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

Jackie Iddings is a contributing reporter and photographer for the Paso Robles Daily News.