From right, Covenant Shores staff Roxanne Helleren and Leslie McGee pose with sponsor Sports Clip’s Andrea Wick, resident Bob Weber, pilot Mike Sommars and residents Bette Bjornestad, Ron Ross, Charlie Hammer, Owen Hall, Zip Zuther and Joe Morton.

From right, Covenant Shores staff Roxanne Helleren and Leslie McGee pose with sponsor Sports Clip’s Andrea Wick, resident Bob Weber, pilot Mike Sommars and residents Bette Bjornestad, Ron Ross, Charlie Hammer, Owen Hall, Zip Zuther and Joe Morton.

Mercer Island veterans take to the skies

Eight Covenant Shores residents experienced the flight of a lifetime.

Eight residents from Covenant Shores retirement community in Mercer Island, ranging in ages from 82 to 91, recently took to the skies in a vintage World War II era bi-plane as part of the Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation flights on July 8.

Ageless Aviation provides flights for veterans and older adults. It has provided more than 3,000 flights across the country to date, according to a press release.

The residents took off from the Renton Municipal Airport, flying in a 1942 Boeing Stearman aircraft — the same plane that was used to train military aviators in the 1940s. Each participant took a 15-20-minute flight, soaring 1,000 feet above the heads of their neighbors and friends.

Many had backgrounds in the military or aviation.

Some served in the United States Navy. Bob Weber, 91, was a lieutenant (junior grade) from 1944-1946, serving on Land Craft Support vessels to destroy floating mines. Joe Morton, 87, served in Guam and Japan during Korean War, from 1951-1955. John Sager, 88, was a lieutenant (junior grade) from 1953-1956, working with the CIA as a Soviet Operations Officer.

Others were in the Army. Owen Hall, 88, was a sergeant, serving from 1953-1955. Ron Ross, 82, served as a records clerk in the 14th Infantry Division from 1954-1956.

More were in the Air Force. Charlie Hammer, 89, was a captain, and served as a flight surgeon, from 1955-1957. Zip Zuther, 86, was a staff sergeant and program planner in the 1950s.

And Betty Bjornestad, 87, flew with WWII fighter pilot in Norway.

Covenant Shores is a faith-based, nonprofit continuing care retirement community. For more information, call 877-385-8613 or visit

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