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90-year-old Vietnam War pilot flies T-33 fighter jet again after 65 years


OCONTO, Wis. (WBAY) – At 90, Vietnamese combat pilot Clyde Bridger returned to the cockpit of a T-33 fighter jet, the same type he flew 65 years ago.

Clyde Bridger flew over Oconto for the Oconto Elks Fly-In event on Saturday to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Oconto J. Douglas Bake Airport.

“I feel like a teenager again. It’s not very often that you see someone, especially my age, even walk into one, let alone take the flight, ”Clyde said.

Clyde continued to fly with his civilian license, but on Saturday morning was the first time he was able to fly a jet again, and especially the same one he flew with during the Vietnam War.

“It’s like a bicycle, you never forget how so I anticipate that I won’t have a problem. That’s why I have a safety pilot in the back, ”Clyde said.

Safety pilot and aircraft owner Steve Jones jumped into the cockpit with Clyde at Executive Air at Austin Straubel International Airport and took off for their overflight.

“I’m going to think I have the world at my feet again,” Clyde exclaimed.

Clyde put on a show, performing a 360 ° aerial approach and touch & go landing.

“It’s lifted a hair on the back of my neck to know that a 90-year-old man like Clyde, who happens to be in fantastic shape, did a terrific job, and he’s a boy from his hometown too,” said Patrick Trépanier, President, Fly-In at Oconto Elks Airport.

Participants had the opportunity to see a variety of military and other historic aircraft up close during the event. It also featured flyovers like Clyde’s, food and raft vendors, 60 planes of all sizes, a car show with nearly 300 classic cars, vintage tractors, and plenty of family activities.

Action 2 News reporter Megan Kernan went above ground in one of 60 planes at the event, traveling in a four-seater plane from the Blue Sky Aviation Club in Pulaski.

The private pilot who flew it, Mike Urban, flew the T-33 Fighter Jet three years ago during the EAA in Oshkosh.

“The speed was a lot greater, the power on the track was fantastic, it’s something that you fly in front of a crowd of people and everyone give up on the taxiway,” said Urban.

After the flyby, Clyde joined his fellow community members who cheered him on, admiring what he did.

Clyde said he had already started planning for when he could ride it again, “It was fantastic, just like the good old days.”

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