After waiting more than 60 years, 88-year-old gets her first flight on a biplane

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Eleanor Hans, 88, of Ocean City takes a flight on a Red Baron airplane with her granddaughter. The flight was a gift from her son, one she was waiting more than 60 years for. Eleanor Hans, 88, of Ocean City takes a flight on a Red Baron airplane with her granddaughter. The flight was a gift from her son, one she was waiting more than 60 years for.

OCEAN CITY — Since she first spotted the shiny "Red Baron" biplane at the Cape May County Airport in the 1950s, Eleanor Hans dreamed of going for a ride.

Imagine, she thought, how exciting it would be to fly in the open air, two-wing airplane. Her late husband, Frank Hans, loved his wife’s unbridled spirit and love of adventure – the couple traveled the world in retirement – but put the nix on what he deemed a risky proposition while she was responsible for raising the couple’s then three young boys.

So Eleanor Hans put her dream on hold, for more than 60 years. For her 88th birthday, Jim Hans offered his mother the opportunity to fulfill her dream – a ride on the classic, 1940 UPF-7 Waco, known as “the Red Baron.”

“We had a wonderful ride, we really did,” said Eleanor Hans, who shares a home in Ocean City with her son, Jim Hans. “I was so happy to do it. The pilot was very nice; he pointed out all of the local landmarks.”

Accompanied by her granddaughter, Jessica Hans, a 24-year-old adventure seeker who works for an engineering firm and shares her grandmother’s love of excitement, Eleanor Hans donned a helmet and goggles and enjoyed the ride she waited about six decades to take.

“Jessica was so delightful. If she thought I might be nervous, she’d pat my hand and say, ‘Are you alright Granny?’ I was fine. I wanted the plane to be open, I thought I’d have a much better view, it was so exciting.  I certainly enjoyed it,” Hans said.

The flight took her up and around the island, from the south end at Corson’s Inlet State Park to the inlet approaching Longport.

“Jim treated me to the ride, but he did not accompany me,” Hans said of her youngest son. “When he made the arrangements, he told the man that he did not want to fly on an airplane that was not big enough to have a bathroom. Jessica was visiting from Baltimore, and she went with me. We saw the Music Pier, The Flanders Hotel, the amusement piers, all along the beach. We saw the bay front, the bridges, it was wonderful.”

Jim Hans said he was thrilled for his mother.

“My father was in Heaven, looking down on her,” he said, adding that his father was also perhaps scolding her a bit.

“He was saying, ‘Are you happy now? You finally got your way,’” he chuckled.

The younger Hans said his father would probably not be surprised that his mother took the ride for her 88th birthday.

His mother, Jim Hans said, began talking about the airplane after the two moved back to New Jersey after living in Florida for several years.

“She said she’d love a ride in it,” said Jim Hans, who works for Modern Power Group out of Bristol, Pa. “I travel around quite a bit; it took a while to get the plan together.”

On the last Sunday in July, he said, his mother took the long-sought ride.

“I’m so happy for her, she really did love it,” he said.

“I always had a sense of adventure,” Eleanor Hans said. “We loved to travel; we went all over Europe, to Japan and on cruises to many different ports. We always had fun.

“That Red Baron just fascinated me, the openness, it was just something that I had to do, and I finally made it!”

Not one to rest on her laurels, Hans said she is already planning her next flight.

“Oh no, I’m going to do it again for sure,” she said, adding that she’d like more “action” in her next flight. “I want the pilot to do some loop-de-loops! And I’d like to do the whole Cape May County coastline, take a longer ride. I thoroughly enjoyed looking out, seeing the coast line!”

Hans said she was not in the least bit nervous.

“No, no I don’t think so,” she said. “I wanted to do it for so long, I was excited. Jessica kept checking with me, to make sure I was OK. I had a great time and I look forward to doing it again!”

Eleanor Hans, 88, of Ocean City takes a flight on a Red Baron airplane with her granddaughter. The flight was a gift from her son, one she was waiting more than 50 years for. Eleanor Hans, 88, of Ocean City takes a flight on a Red Baron airplane with her granddaughter. The flight was a gift from her son, one she was waiting more than 50 years for.

Eleanor Hans, 88, of Ocean City takes a flight on a Red Baron airplane with her granddaughter. The flight was a gift from her son, one she was waiting more than 50 years for. Eleanor Hans, 88, of Ocean City takes a flight on a Red Baron airplane with her granddaughter. The flight was a gift from her son, one she was waiting more than 50 years for.

Eleanor Hans, 88, of Ocean City takes a flight on a Red Baron airplane with her granddaughter. The flight was a gift from her son, one she was waiting more than 50 years for. Eleanor Hans, 88, of Ocean City takes a flight on a Red Baron airplane with her granddaughter. The flight was a gift from her son, one she was waiting more than 50 years for.

 


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