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Freedom Flyers

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Mental Health, Sports

Mission: Freedom Flyers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to use the magnificent, historic WWII airplanes in its care to honor veterans for their service to America. Freedom Flyers also honors community heroes like firefighters, police, emergency management technicians, teachers and others who have made a positive difference.

Results: Freedom Flyers has flown over 150 WWII Veterans free of charge on its Hero Flights, for what many consider the highlight of their lives. Along with WWII Veterans, Freedom Flyers actively participates in events across the United States like air shows that honor Active Military and Veterans.

Target demographics: We honor veterans for their service to America, as well as community heroes like firefighters, police, emergency management technicians, teachers and others who have made a positive difference.

Geographic areas served: We are driven by the desire to honor veterans and community heroes by giving them the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly as a VIP guest in our restored WWII P-51 Mustang fighter plane.

Programs: Hero Flights

Community Stories

8 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Carolyn Appleton

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

While lending my professional assistance to Freedom Flyers, I helped the organization establish a GreatNonprofits profile. What a wonderful experience. One "reviewer" could not complete a review on her own, and hence, her testimonial came via email from her daughter, who lives in North Carolina. This note sums up my feelings about Freedom Flyers and is very inspiring: "My name is Nelda Nadine Clark. I am 92, and a WWII Navy veteran. I had the awesome experience of flying in the P51 Mustang. It was the experience of a lifetime. They were all so kind to help me in and out of the cockpit [Nelda has mobility issues]. Thank you for the excitement during my flight. My daughter is writing this for me!"

1 Paul195

Donor

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to fly after bidding on the item at an auction. I have always had a love for aviation. Chuck Yeager was my childhood hero. I have read most of his books, so the idea of flying in the iconic P-51 was a dream come true. I knew a lot about this plane and its capabilities, so my expectations were quite high. This flight did not disappoint. The staff were amazing in scheduling the flight and the introduction to the plane when you arrive. The actual flight is an event you will never forget. The roar of that engine is almost more than the senses can handle. The pilot will go as light or heavy on the controls as you want; according to your comfort level. I could say so much more, but words just don't do it justice. An amazing experience and an amazing organization that does so much for this community.

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PecosBillP51 05/31/2016

Thank you so much! Very best wishes from the Freedom Flyers home team.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

August 2014
Thank you pilot Cowden Ward and Freedom Flyers for fulfilling a dream.
I had essentially dismissed the idea that I could ever get airborne in a WWII P-51 Mustang.
Then I met John Burkhardt of "Honor Flight Austin" at an airshow at Bergstrom AFB in June. He described the Freedom Flyers Mission and the possibility of a ride in Cowden's P-51 "Pecos Bill" stationed at Burnet, Texas. On a great day for flying, I met Cowden and he helped me fold this 89 year old body into his fabulous "time machine". The following exhilarating ride in his P-51 truly transported me back into my 18 year old self again. It was a fantastic experience.
In 1944 I flew the Air Force B-26 Bomber, yet I always longed for the experience of flying a fighter aircraft. This day my dream was fulfilled.
Freedom Flyers staff and colleagues demonstrate their generosity with their time, concern, and respect for Veterans and older pilot comrades.
I applaud you and your associates for all your highly commendable services.
Sincerely, John Sullivan

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Carolyn Appleton 05/16/2016

Thank you so much for this wonderful review!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I won my opportunity to ride in this iconic war plane at a charitable auction. Freedom Flyers gives back to the community in a substantial way. The first impression I had upon arriving at the facility was the professionalism of the operation. The hangar where the planes are serviced was immaculately clean and well organized. Safety and adherence to procedures is a priority which transcends into safety for the clients. The process to schedule the flight was seamless and efficient. Several things stood out as first impressions. The first thing that was evident was the condition of the P-51 aircraft. It was maintained in a detailed and thorough manor. The next impression was the competence of the pilot, Ward Cowen. He was thorough in procedures, explained everything that was going to happen, and handled the aircraft confidently and smoothly. While going down the runway during take off, I was struck by the complexity and power of this machine. The Rolls Royce Merlin engine was strong and lifted the plane into the air effortlessly. The young men who flew these planes had to be very intelligent as well as brave. I realized a renewed appreciation and feeling of indebtedness to them for what they had to endure during war. This aircraft is configured with a training control stick in the rear seat. The stick moves with the pilots motions during flight so the passenger can see what is involved with each movement the pilot makes with flying the aircraft.

This experience is one of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced and it gave me an insight to what it was like back in the 1940's to be flying one of the most advanced propeller aircraft ever designed.

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Carolyn Appleton 05/16/2016

Thank you for this marvelous review - it means more than you know. Very best wishes.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

In one word -WOW !! What a treat for an Infantry & Artillery World War II vet. An amazing plane and touching experience. I recall as they flew over-I often wondered what it would be like to be up there in one. NOW I KNOW !!! Thanks so much.

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Carolyn Appleton 05/16/2016

Many thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Being an 87 year old ex- Navy pilot, who spent most of his Navy service flying reconnaissance, anti- submarine and air-sea rescue missions, in the South China Sea, during the Korean era, I never expected to get the opportunity to ride in a 70 year old P51 Mustang.

However, on October 16, 2015 I was in the rear seat of a P51 Mustang "Pecos Bill" when the amazing sound of that 12 cylinder engine came to life only to be suppressed by the roar at take-off power, before we lifted off.

Thank you Cowden Ward and Freedom Flyers for all that you are doing for our veterans and I sincerely hope you can continue your good work.

Don Mallon
Weston Lakes, TX

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Carolyn Appleton 05/16/2016

Your enthusiastic words mean so much to Freedom Flyers! Thank you and very best wishes from all of us.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

A friend of mine had been advised of the opportunity for a P-51 ride for WWII Veterans at Oshkosh in the War Birds Area. He being Air Force and me Navy Vets, we contacted Mr. Ward on a bright sunny morning and were signed up for the ride of a lifetime in Pecos Bill As a Private pilot for about 60 years, starting with a Piper J-3 and having flown nothing bigger than a Sky Hawk, the anticipation of flying in a P-51 was almost too much. M. Ward gave me a great controlled ride, experiencing the sense of speed and agility of such a great airplane. Going back to my Aeronca Champ provided an extreme experience, one I will never forget.

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Carolyn Appleton 05/16/2016

Thank you so much for this marvelous review! The Freedom Flyers team appreciates it very much.

2 Richard136

Client Served

Rating: 5

I'm a WW2 Veteran went to EAA Oshkosh WI for a day flight on Yankee Air Museums C47 wearing my WW2 Veterans hat, and was asked if I wanted to ride in the P51 what a thrill. Finding out that was also a pilot they put the stick in for me to be able to fly it after we got into the air, most of the air time I did most of the flying until we got ready to land, that was so very unexpected and I will never forget that experience and the certificate they sent later was icing on the cake, I have it mounted on the wall right over my computer where I can see it at all times. The service that the Freedom flyers are doing for the Veterans is beyond fantastic, if all who have had my experience feel the same as I do about it, there are a lot of happy Vets out there, if at all possible please keep up the good work, I don't have the means to help out monetarily ,but If this can help so be it. Thanks again for a wonderful experience.............Two pic's below of my Honor Flight June 24th 2014......

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Carolyn Appleton 05/16/2016

Heartfelt thanks for this wonderful review! It means more than you know. Very best wishes from the Freedom Flyers home team.