Growing up in South Florida, Doug Rogers lived near the airport in Miami. Watching airplanes take off and land stirred within him a desire to learn to fly.
The idea of flying planes “stuck in his head.” Some years later, while driving home from work, Doug made a U-turn and headed straight to the Air Force recruiting office where he asked about pilot opportunities. A few months later, Doug went to basic training. Flight School came next and Doug Rogers became an Air Force pilot. For five years, Doug served as an aircraft commander flying cargo planes during the Vietnam War.
After military service in Vietnam, Doug became a commercial airline pilot. He retired from Eastern Airlines and then went to work for an international cargo transportation company. For nearly thirty years, Doug flew airplanes. And then he retired.
“Being a pilot was a job he absolutely loved,” said his son, Gary, “His love of flying created a sense of identity for him.” It had been twenty years since Captain Doug Rogers was able to fly a plane, and his Wish of a Lifetime was to fly once again.
With the help of Wish of a Lifetime, Brookdale and Veronicas Wings, Doug took to the skies with us, not only once, but twice in one day, with his family in tow.
On the first flight with pilot Val Lynn Booth, he flew his grandson, Jonny, and granddaughter, Megan, for the first time. On the second flight, he and Val took his son, Gary and Gary’s Mom, Ada, on a scenic flight over Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach and The Everglades.
“I’ve never flown that type of plane [a Cessna Cardinal], but I took the controls and knew how to fly it.”
“He is a natural,” said Val, “His training, experience and discipline in the air showed and it was a pleasure flying with him.”
We took off from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport heading east toward the beaches. It was a beautiful morning. Flying along the coast, over Pompano and out over The Everglades into the flight training practice area, he amazed me. Some people are just born to fly. Doug is one of those people.
Doug’s favorite part? Getting back in the air again after 20 years.
Many thanks to the good folks at Banyan Air Service at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport for hosting our flights and making Mr. Rogers family comfortable in-between flights.
Photo credits are due, with thanks, to professional photographer Charles McCarthy of Weefan Photography