Big Sky Honor Flight: First Flights - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Big Sky Honor Flight: First Flights

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WASHINGTON, DC -

For a handful of World War Two veterans on the fifth Big Sky Honor Flight, getting on the plane out of Billings was a milestone in and of itself. William Marcher, a Butte native who now lives in Columbus, had never flown on a commercial airplane before, and hadn't flown at all in over eight decades. "I flew on a little one when I was about four or five years old," Marcher said, adding that he didn't remember it himself, but remembered his family talking about it.

After he got to Washington, he said the flight "wasn't bad. Sitting in the back of the plane, it was a little rocky at times, but it's pretty amazing." He enjoyed the view. "It's nice to be way above the clouds, look down and see all the white clouds."

Marcher wasn't the only one entering new territory on the flight. "When I was in the navy, I went on a submarine. I didn't like that," said Billy Schaffer. "Then I saw the airplanes. I didn't want to be lower than the taters or higher than corn. So I got on the aircraft carrier.

Despite the fact that he served on a carrier, the Honor Flight was the first time the 85-year-old from Broadus had flown. "I didn't like it. That's the first time I've ever been on one of the damn things. I had no use for it."

Schaffer might no have flown before, but he is a world traveler, having put in around 180,000 miles by sea. "I went through the (Panama) Canal. New York four times. I've been to Spain, Italy and India, Okinawa, Iwo Jima.

Whatever their feelings on flying, the vets were moved and impressed by the sights in the capital. Sitting at Arlington National Cemetery, Marcher said, "This, this right here is amazing, to see all this."

"I've enjoyed all of it," said Schaffer. "I like that Iwo Jima (The Marine Corps War Memorial), and I like that sign where Roosevelt runs for four terms, with everything he did."

The flight crew had a surprise for the two men on the trip home. Marcher and Schaffer got their wings, and a first flight certificate. Even though Schaffer isn't a fan of flying, he did say the flights had a good pilot. "I was going to ride up front with him, make sure he knew what he was doing, but they wouldn't let me," he joked.

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