Woman flies high for 102nd birthday - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Woman flies high for 102nd birthday

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By Nathan Ryder - bio | email | Twitter
Posted by Sarah Harlan - email

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - At age 102, Nona usually gets around in a wheelchair but, Tuesday she had wings.  

A birthday wish came true for Nona as she boarded a small plane at Evansville's Tri-State Aero.

"I just happened to ask her, 'Nona if there was one more thing you wished you could do what would it be?' she said to fly in an airplane one more time," Della Grimes with Atria Senior Living said.

It was an idea that captured the mind of Nona Draper who just turned 102-years-young last week.

At her birthday celebration she reflected on life, including her last plane ride more than 40-years ago.

"She went one time," Nona's daughter, Jerry Waggoner said. "She flew to Texas, she loved it and I think it was just something that was still on her mind that she would like to do again."

Over her favorite meal of potato soup, ham salad sandwiches and double chocolate cake, the plan to take the centennarian on a special flight was kept secret.

"She gets kind of anxious, so we held off telling her, and at first she was kind of hesitant and once I told her that my brothers were going to be with her, yes ,she was very excited," Waggoner said.

A group of Nona's friends and family didn't hesitate to gather on the tarmac during a blustery Tuesday afternoon to see her take-off.

"Her smile was just huge and it was just great to see her so happy and so pleased," Waggoner said. 

"We took off and she looked out the window and could see everybody standing down here and we went over downtown and circled around a couple of times and then went down around the river and then flew over where she lives and they had a big sign out that said Nona," Pilot Glenn Piacentini said.

After half an hour, a smiling Nona was back on the ground greeted by the waiting crowd. 

"I thought it was grand," Nona said.

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