A Roanoke World War II veteran got the rare chance to be back in the cockpit Friday morning.
Jack Franz is 96 years old and remembers his days as an Army pilot and prisoner of war; what endures is his love of flying.
It was a day of nostalgia for World War II veteran Jack Franz.
"When you sit there with your hands on the controls, it's something else," World War II veteran told Your Hometown News Leader.
At 96, the chances to be inside a plane, much more fly one, are few and far between. But today, Franz got to do both!
"It's quite natural but we just made a couple turns and that was it and you don't forget how do it," said Franz.
Being at the controls, jogged the former Army pilot's memory of one of his last missions where he saved nine of his men.
"We were fortunate because we had plenty of time to prepare to get out and when we reached a certain altitude, I rang the bell, and they started out." "I had to hold onto controls until everybody got out," Franz told WDBJ7's Nadia Singh.
That mission ended with Franz being captured by the Germans in Hungary who held him for four months. His family and friends think of him as a hero.
"I'm real proud of him and I'm real proud of everything he did and has accomplished and you know, he's been a great dad and a great American," son, John Franz told WDBJ7.
Pilot and friend John Holmgren took him up, up and away today. He's known Franz for 50 years and was honored to fly with him.
"I move the seat forward, got his feet on the rudder pedals and I said, go ahead and fly it and he kind of looked over at me and he grinned and he put his hands up there and he made all the turns," Holmgren said.
Franz recently lost his wife and his family thought this flight would put a smile on his face.
"I didn't think it would ever happen, period. But it did. Thanks to all these people around here," said Franz.
It's a flight this soldier will never forget.
Franz was taught to fly by his brother Boots who was also a pilot and instructor. Franz is a member of the Quiet Birdmen, a fraternity of pilots, that made today's flight possible.