First time flyer, 83, gets red carpet treatment

By PHILIP CASE State Journal COLUMNIST Published:

As the song says, "... there's a first time for everything!"

For Wilma New, leaving the familiar security of solid ground for the relative uncertainty of the skies was 83 years in coming, but the former Frankfort resident says she'd fly again ... if not "in a heartbeat," at least with short notice.

New, who now lives in Lancaster to be closer to her family, recently took her first-ever flight to Phoenix to visit her granddaughter, Lynette Owen. Accompanied by her son and daughter-in-law, Earl and Linda New, the trio flew from Lexington to Detroit and then on to Phoenix.

"It was just great," said Wilma. "We were so high up ... it was just incredible to look down on the clouds.

Linda New accompanied "Granny" to the interview. She had arranged with the airline, Northwest, to roll out the red carpet all along the way. Wilma received a certificate for her first flight and had her picture made with the flight crew.

"The captain said if he'd known she was on his flight earlier," said Linda, "he would have had Granny brought up to the cockpit for a picture there."

"There were a lot of good looking men on that airplane," said Wilma, laughing. "They paid a lot of attention to me and made the trip something special."

While in the west, the News visited "a lot of places," Wilma said, including the Grand Canyon and Montezuma's Castle.

"Along with the flight, what I really liked was getting to see Lynette and picking oranges right off a tree out the back door. They are so sweet that way."

At first Wilma said she didn't want to go if Earl and Linda were going to fly.

"But one day I just changed my mind and decided to fly with them. I told Earl Wayne and he said 'oh good.'"

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