Veteran Salute: Training fighter pilots for WWII

Veteran Salute

He may be 95-years-old now, but Dick Sheets was just a young man when he headed to sign up to serve.

Sheets said there were just seven boys in his rural high school class, so after they graduated they went and enlisted at the same time.

He was trained to be a fighter pilot, but instead of deploying to WWII he headed for flight instructor school.

“My country has done so much for me, and I am so proud of it, and I wanted to be a part of it,” Fighter Pilot Instructor Dick Sheets said.

It was his decision to sign up for the Air Force that allowed Sheets to live out his dream of being a pilot.

“I told my mother, when I was just a few years old, I was going to work in New York City and come home for dinner,” Sheets said. “I was going to fly back and forth.”

It wasn’t New York, but it was the skies above Texas.

“I loved to do everything I could in an airplane, and yes, I was good at it at the time,” Sheets said.

So talented in fact Sheets taught the advanced and final leg of pilot training.

He logged many hours in the front seat, with student pilots strapped in back.

Even with all those training flights, he never forgot the first time his instructor took him for a loop, literally.

“I thought I was going to fly out. My head was hanging out in the slip stream, my goggles were about to come off and that scared the tar out of me and I love to do aerobatics,” Sheet said.

He said it was that first rush that got him hooked, and he was proud to prepare pilots for combat.

“I am proud, very proud, of my generation,” Sheet said.

He said his heart really gets to beating every time he sees Old Glory.

“I love the flag, we fought for the flag, that’s what we did,” Sheets said.

Sheets had an important role in ensuring those fighter pilots were ready to fly overseas.

He’s quite impressed to see how far aircraft have come in the last seventy years.

“Today in the airplanes you’ve got a cover on the cockpit,” Sheet said.

His metal flight goggles are just one thing that are now housed by a museum.

One thing that hasn’t changed, after all these years, is his love for flying.

“I love to take off, I loved to pour the coal to it,” Sheet said.

Sheets continued to fly after his military service ended.

He said he was part of the ‘Lucky 13’ and for years they threw money in a pot that allowed them to fly private planes.

When we asked him if he ever took a private plane for a barrel roll, and without missing a beat he smiled so big and said you can barrel roll just about any airplane.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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