During the pandemic, most news reports focused, for obvious reasons, on the damage the pandemic caused to the travel industry.
But from time to time we hear stories of kindness and generosity, despite the difficulties of the pandemic.
This is one of those stories.
Julie Pflaumer of Destinations by Julie in Rosette, Wy. who runs a Facebook travel advisor group, found a way for an elderly client and his two friends to fly high – literally and figuratively.
It all started when Mr. Pflaumer posted a paragraph on the site expressing his frustration at not being able to fulfill a customer request through no fault of his own.
The client, Jack Henderson, a veteran and non-veteran pilot living in Florence, Oregon, wanted to participate in an air race in Reno, Nevada, in September 2021 with two buddies who are also veterans and non-veteran pilots.
I called him back and told him the tickets wouldn’t be released until spring, and he didn’t seem to understand, she says.
One of the men became ill, and Henderson thought the trip too risky because of their age.
So Pfleumer accepted the job. She looked for solutions closer to home and found Aero Legends, a company with two locations in Florence, where three men live in an assisted living facility.
Pfleumer pitched the idea to members of the agent group on Facebook and said she would be happy to pay for the tour herself.
And then the donations started coming in. A gentleman said: They can count on me, and then there was a domino effect, Pflaumer said, adding that the group raised more than enough money for a two-story tower for the three men and donated the rest of the money to a nursing home where they received care.
Much of the credit goes to the officers who volunteered, Pfleumer said. I couldn’t have done it without her. It warms my heart. These people have been a great support, not only on our travels, but also in our personal lives.
To top it off, the Aero Legends pilot was once Rookie of the Year in Reno Air Race.
And one of the three men was planning to book a biplane at Aero Legends to blow his wife’s ashes into the air. He was just waiting for the right moment, she said.
A friend of Mr. Pfloumer, who works in an assisted living facility, brought the three men together and gave them a coupon for a tour of the double-decker.
They all fell off their chairs. They were excited and grateful, Pflumer said, which Henderson himself confirmed.
I couldn’t imagine something like this happening, Henderson said. To tell you the truth, I was shocked – that people could do such a thing. I am eternally grateful. We are inundated with thoughts and actions and we appreciate it very much.
Jack Henderson with a certificate for a trip on two planes, courtesy of a Facebook group of agents. (Photo by Julie Pflaumer)
For Pflaumer, who worked in a Wyoming coal mine before becoming a travel consultant four years ago, offering men a two-story apartment is particularly important.
I was driving the biggest heavy machinery on the surface, she says, adding that she is a second generation miner and her husband still works in the mines.
I’ve always enjoyed traveling and planning it myself, she says.
I worked in the mines for 10 years and dealt with older men. The honest truth is I’ve been to a lot of funerals. Unfortunately, many of them did not make it to retirement.
A friend who was planning to travel the world with his retired wife had a heart attack and died. He hit me pretty hard, Pflemer said, working overtime for a week, dying and delaying his retirement for a year.
It was then that Pflaumer made the decision to become a travel consultant. I built my whole business around shift workers and oil workers, she says.
I don’t want to see people’s dreams crumble.
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