Man with terminal illness takes final flight

Credit: Eric Turner/ KTVB

Man with terminal illness takes final flight

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by Scott Evans

Bio | Email | Follow: @ScottEvansKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on June 1, 2012 at 6:40 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 8:16 AM

NAMPA --A Treasure Valley man got the ride of his life Friday. He got to fly in a World War two era plane.

Ed Thomas caught the flying bug early in life. In high school, he worked for a crop dusting company. He later served in the Army. When he got home he got his private and commercial pilot's license.

For 23 years he worked for Frontier Airlines, spending his last seven years with the company as a baggage supervisor. Ed loves flying and air planes.

"Always been in love with the P-51," said Ed Thomas sitting from his wheelchair.

It wasn't that long ago that Thomas, at 72 years young, got some horrible news; he has a heart condition that is incurable. That's where Doug Raper comes in.

"Everybody has a dream,” said Raper. Everybody has a thing that they want to do that they've dreamt about their whole lives, and this is his, to ride in this plane.”

He started Wish Granter, a non-profit organization, focused on granting wishes to adults with terminal illnesses.

"I've never flown in one like that and I just have always wanted to," said Thomas as he looked at the World War II era plane.

Waiting, with a painted on smile fit for a war plane, the Curtis P-40 will fulfill Thomas' final wish.

"It means a lot, a great deal," said Thomas. "I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

After a quick briefing, pilot John-Curtiss Paul helped Thomas into the back seat of the plane. It took some time to maneuver into the old plane.

For some, dreams stay as dreams. But on Friday, Thomas’ dream became reality.

For roughly 15 minutes, Thomas soared over Canyon County. Flying like the pilot he once was.

For pilots, like Paul and Thomas, there is a kinship, a connection. So when the flight was done, few words were all it took. For Thomas to express how high he soared during his final flight.

"Thank you," said Ed. "You're welcome," Paul smiled back.

"There's nothing I can say that's it's going equal what I feel," said Thomas.

"I really enjoyed doing that with you," said Paul. "I enjoyed it too, so much," said Thomas."

Thomas spent the flight laughing and giggling with excitement.

This wish happened because Thomas’ wife reached out to Doug Raper and Wish Granters.

Wish Granters granted its first wish in December 2010. Today was the 48th wish for adults in Ada and Canyon County who have terminal illnesses.

They're currently working on 21 more wishes. Funding is the only thing holding them back from doing more wishes.

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