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90-year-old Vietnam War pilot flies a T-33 Fighter Jet again after 65 years

Published: Sep. 18, 2021 at 7:25 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2021 at 11:20 AM CDT
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OCONTO, Wis. (WBAY) - At 90-years-old, Vietnam combat pilot, Clyde Bridger, returned to the cockpit of a T-33 Fighter Jet, the same kind he used to fly 65 years ago.

Clyde Bridger did a flyover in Oconto for the Oconto Elks Fly-In event on Saturday to celebrate the Oconto J. Douglas Bake Airport’s 75th anniversary.

“I feel like a teenager all over again. There’s not very many times that you see somebody especially my age even getting into one, much less actually doing the flying,” said Clyde.

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

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

The safety pilot and the plane’s owner, Steve Jones, hopped in the cockpit with Clyde at Executive Air in the Austin Straubel International Airport, and took off for their flyover.

“I’m gonna think I’ve got the world at my feet again,” Clyde exclaimed.

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

“It raised a hair on the back of your neck to know that a 90-year-old gentleman as Clyde, who happens to be in fantastic shape, did an awesome job, and he’s a hometown boy on top of it,” said Patrick Trepanier, Chairman, Oconto Elks Airport Fly-In.

Attendees had the opportunity to see a variety of historic military and other aircrafts up close at the event. It also featured flyovers like Clyde’s, raft ad food vendors, 60 planes of all sizes, a car show with almost 300 classic cars, antique tractors, and plenty of family-friendly activities.

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

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

“The speed was much greater, the power going down the runway was fantastic, it’s a thing that you’re flying in front of a crowd of people and everyone’s waiving as your taxiing down the taxiway,” said Urban.

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

Clyde said he’s already started making plans for when he can fly it again, “It was fantastic, just like old times.”

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