WWII Vets take to the skies in Dream Flights

Featured photo: WWII Vet Tom Tolman of Bemidji gives a thumbs up before takeoff with pilot Jeff Klotski.

Two local World War II veterans flew in a restored biplane this morning at the Bemidji Airport.

Pilots Mike Sommars and Jeff Klotski, both American Airline pilots, were on hand for “Dream Flights,” which, before COVID-19, took residents at assisted living facilities and retirement homes out for airplane rides.

Signatures of those who have flown on Dream Flights

This year, in Operation September, Dream Flights is aiming to take any World War II veteran who would like to go on the flights.

Sommars said the “Spirit of Wisconsin” is much like the types of planes WWII pilots would train on before they earned their wings.

Flying today were WWII vets Norris Strandlien, 94, of Bagley. Strandlien arrived at Nagasaki after the second atomic bomb and was part of the occupying Army force in Japan.

Ninety-six-year-old Tom Tolman of Bemidji served in the Navy in the Pacific Theater.

Larissa Donovan was the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016, through July 2023. She covered all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University. You can follow along with Larissa's live tweets of meetings and events on Twitter!

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