Lakeshore Residents Soar the Seattle Skies in Dream Flights Aerial Event
Eight hand picked seniors and military veterans from The Lakeshore were given a very special opportunity this August. Gathering together on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, residents embarked on a 20-minute open cockpit flight through the greater Seattle area. The honorary event was facilitated through Dream Flights, a national nonprofit that honors seniors and veterans through flight.
Residents flew with volunteer pilots, taking off from the Auburn Municipal Airport in restored Boeing Stearman biplanes. Heading up to 1,000 feet in the air, pilots accompany senior residents through the skies, operating the same planes that aviators from the WWII era were trained with.
“It’s been wonderful to see the emotions from the veterans and their families. Smiling and laughing and even crying,” said Krista Trapp, life enrichment director at Era Living’s The Lakeshore senior residence. The event received coverage by local King 5 News.
Founded in 2011, Dream Flights has completed 5,447 Dream Flights throughout the United States. While the fun happens in the sky, the true purpose of Dream Flights is to foster understanding and compassion on the ground level. The organization works to weave a larger community narrative through individual experiences in overcoming hardship. Retelling stories of the past helps to close the generation gap and encourages a sense of shared humanity.
Through determination and hard work, many brave and bold people survived harrowing circumstances to live successful, thriving lives. Of the eight selected to fly on August 17th were Lucy Sato, Andy Perlbachs, and Homer Yasui. These three residents of The Lakeshore have unique and captivating life stories, and overcame drastic life obstacles to get where they are today.
Born and raised in Seattle, Lucy Sato was sent to a relocation camp with her family just as she entered her teen years. Eventually moving to Philadelphia, Lucy was able to complete the Cadet Nursing Program and joined the US Public Health Service as a surgical nurse. Her career led to a pivotal role in mental health programs for Asian immigrants from Southeast Asia. Lucy traveled extensively around the world and contributed to her community through volunteer work at the Asian Counseling Services. She also raised a family, and now has 9 grandchildren.
Andy Perlbachs is originally from Latvia. His family fled through Nazi Germany and lived in various parts of Europe, searching for peace and stability. After living in a Displaced Persons Camp in Germany, his family was able to immigrate to the United States, sailing into New York City. Andy completed a fulfilling 40-year career at Boeing and raised a loving family.
Another resident, Homer Yasui, was born in Hood River, Oregon. His family was eventually moved to Fresno, California just before his high school graduation. They were included in the 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry who were detained through Executive Order 9066. In 1942, Homer was able to leave the Tule Lake prison camp to attend the University of Denver before moving on to medical school in Philadelphia. His career in the medical field led him to the US Navy, where he worked at a naval air station in Japan, before later joining the US Naval Reserve where he worked for 20 years before retiring as a Captain. He then completed surgical training and opened a General Surgery practice in Oregon, working for another 30 years before retirement.
These three stories illustrate the varied difficulties of life, and how people can overcome them. All three, despite hardship, led fulfilling careers, gave back to their communities, and nurtured their families. These are examples of those who find the silver lining and move through fear to embrace their best future.
Dream Flights embraces the dynamic history of our seniors and encourages the telling of these stories. The volunteers, who are commercial or military pilots, enjoy giving back and providing opportunity for residents to reflect on their service.