It was a beautiful spring day, almost 70 degrees and sunny. Even before it began, Clyde Jordan knew it would be a day he would never forget. He was prepped with a packed lunch, wind jacket and fingerless gloves. On March 8, 93-year-old Clyde, Masonic Village at Elizabethtown resident and Army veteran, took to the skies for one more flight.
As he took off from Donegal Springs Airpark and flew over the Gettysburg battlefield, enjoying the scenery, Clyde thought of his beautiful wife of 70 years, Eva, who he knew was back at the airport smiling up at the sky. Both Clyde and Eva are facing life-limiting illnesses and receiving care from Masonic Village Hospice.
While raising his family in a small town called Butler, Clyde enjoyed watching planes land and take off at the Butler County Airport. “He always wanted to fly,” Eva said, “but we didn’t always have the money. We raised our children first, then, I said, ‘now is your time.’”
As a licensed private pilot, Clyde took plenty of flights for fun, sometimes accompanied by his sons, who were then old enough to appreciate the once-in-a-lifetime trips.
“When he heard about the flight, boy, he was so excited. It just made me happy to see him so happy,” Eva said. “We made it 70 years, and that’s pretty good.”
Timothy Nickel, Masonic Village Hospice chaplain, teamed up to arrange the flight with volunteer Masons Larry Derr, Rick Hamm and Wayne Laughner, who have now formed project Brother Flight. The group will help fund, gather volunteers and pilot future flights for Masonic Village Hospice patients.
As Clyde climbed out of the cockpit, while Eva watched him with a look of concern, he wore an unforgettable smile. “I’ll never forget this as long as I live,” Clyde said. “I never thought I’d get to go up in a plane again. If I never get out of my chair again, I’d be a happy man.”