By Karen Kidd, PM
(I speak only for me)
Brother Nellie McCool 33°, an aviator in her youth during World War II, flew again late this past spring and just might do it again next year.
“It was great,” Bro. Nellie told me last time I saw her. “It was a lot of fun. I’m happy I got to do it.”
Bro. Nellie, 97, went up in the cockpit of a Boeing Stearman, the same sort used to train aviators during the 1930s and 40s, on June 19, thanks to Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation.
The Carson City, Nevada-based non-profit, staffed largely by volunteers and dependent on donations to continue their mission, dedicated to seniors and U.S. Military veterans, which made it possible for Bro. Nellie and the other former aviators in her group to make the flight.
As of the date of this blog, 4005 “dream flights” have flown via the foundation.
Bro. Nellie McCool as an aviator trainee during World War II
Some of you might remember Bro. Nellie from a previous blog. She was born 25 January 1922 in Lahunta and grew up in Beaver, Oklahoma and Colorado Springs, Colorado. McCool received her aviation training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. She was among the Class 44-7-Trainees and became a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), achieving the rank of Captain in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.
After the war, the WASPs were disbanded and McCool went on to earn her Ph.D. in Psychology from Colorado College and worked at several Colorado schools, including North Junior High, South Security School, and Harrison Senior High School. In the 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, McCool worked in intelligence at NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain Complex. Later, she served 12 years in the guidance, counseling, job development and placement section of the state’s Board of Community Colleges and Occupational Education and she was director of the ABC for Self-Help Inc. counseling service.
Bro. Nellie also is a brother of the 33° and a member of the Supreme Council of the Honorable Order of Universal Co-Masonry, headquartered in Larkspur, Colorado, only a few miles from her home in Castle Rock.
She didn’t hesitate when the chance to fly again was offered by Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation.
“Today, many of our former United States military pilots live in senior communities,” the foundation says on its website. “We want to take them back to a place in time when they were invincible, ruling the sky as proud military aviators.
As of the date of this blog, 4005 “dream flights” have flown, thanks to the foundation.
As she did decades ago, Bro. Nellie climbed onto the wing of the Boeing Stearman to get to the cockpit for the flight over and around the Colorado Springs area, which included Garden of the Gods and Prospect Lake.
“When you’re up there, looking down, everything is in miniature,” Bro. Nellie said. “All your problems seem very small.”
Bro. Nellie and the other veteran aviators also made the local news.
Word has it that Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation might offer a flight next spring, and Bro. Nellie said she’ll be ready if and when they do.
“I certainly hope so,” she said.