Residents at a care home in Cramlington were able to fly a Boeing 737, Spitfire and F35 Combat Fighter as part of a flight simulator experience at Brunswick-based Flight Sim Centre.
The occasion was organised by the wellbeing team at Cramlington House, a residential and dementia care home owned and managed by Craig Healthcare.
Three residents took part, who each have a connection with flying. Bob Burns, 87, served in the RAF as ground crew and always wanted to fly. Ian Kingsland, aged 83, served in the Parachute Regiment reserves and his dream was to fly a plane as he always jumped out of them but never got to land one. Jimmy Oliver, 88, thought it would be a once in a lifetime experience that he wanted to try.
Kim Stubbs, Wellbeing Champion at Cramlington House, said: “Our key priority is providing highly personalised care that’s relevant and appropriate to the specific care needs of each resident. We organised the flight simulator experience because of the benefits we knew it would provide to Bob, Ian and Jimmy.
“It was wonderful to see the sheer awe on their faces when flying and how happy, content and relaxed they all were. People have misperceptions about care homes and don’t understand just how much the specialised activities we organise improve their quality of life and overall wellbeing. It’s days like this when I realise that I have one of the best jobs in the world.”
As part of the simulator experience, the residents were able to ‘take off’, ‘land’ and tour different regions of the UK and America. Once back at Cramlington House, they couldn’t wait to tell others, their families and staff and it’s been a key highlight of the week.
A day after the flying experience, Bob Burns said: “I’ve just come back down to earth this morning – yesterday was absolutely fantastic.”
Jimmy Oliver added: “It felt marvellous! It was an unusual but wonderful thing to be able to do. I feel like I could fly a real plane and keep telling others that I could definitely take them to Tenerife or their next holiday destination!”