Strapped into a 1940 Army Air Corps trainer, Lou Compton opened his eyes Wednesday morning to a sea of green.
Summerville's tree tops, he said, is the image that will stay with him from his flight in the Boeing Stearman biplane.
The 98-year-old World War II veteran was one of five Summerville Estates residents who partook in 15-minute flights from the town's airport on Wednesday.
The experience was provided by Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit based out of Nevada that gives veterans in assisted living homes a chance to fly, once again, to new heights.
More than 650 veterans have flown through the organization since it's creation in 2011, founder Darryl Fisher said.
"Our mission is to give back to those who have already given," Fisher said.
Summerville Estates' Activity Coordinator Ronda Villa invited the organization to the town this week.
"It was a wonderful experience. Something they never thought they'd have the chance to do," Villa said. For Compton, the flight carried him back to his days in the Army during World War II.
He recalled riding in a fighter plane while stationed in England shortly before D-Day.
In his youth, he said, he flashed a thumbs up at the plane's pilot to let him know that he was doing OK. He couldn't speak at the time, he said, because his stomach had risen to his throat.
On Wednesday, Compton said his eyes were fixed on the horizon throughout the smooth flight.
"All I saw was a solid mat of tree tops," he said afterward. "I was joyful during the flight."
A stick that rested between his knees throughout the trip shifted with the pilot's movements.
"It made me feel as though I was controlling the plane," he said.
Compton's daughter Barbara Werner said she was grateful that her father was able create such a precious memory.
"This is an opportunity that he will never forget," she said.
The days other passengers were Nora Faust, 82, who served as a nurse in the Navy; Anthony Esposito, 88, who served in the Army Air Corps; Irvin Bowdoin, 76, an Army veteran; and Ian Divertie, 58, who served in the Navy.
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.