108-year-old veteran stays on solid ground, skips flight

CHICO, California (AP) — A 108-year-old woman believed to be the oldest living female military veteran kept her feet firmly on the ground Monday, deciding at the last minute to turn down a flight aboard a World War II-era biplane, according to the nonprofit that organized the ride.

Lynn Balmer was scheduled to take off from Chico, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of Sacramento, but decided against the flight in the morning, said Darryl Fisher, president of the Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation, a group that gets aging veterans into the sky.

Balmer was at the airfield but said, “I don’t need it,” when asked whether she would fly. She did not elaborate.

The foundation honors seniors and U.S. military veterans with flights aboard a Boeing Stearman biplane, the same type of plane used to train military aviators during World War II.

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Balmer served in the U.S. Coast Guard, working as a coder while stationed in Seattle, according to the foundation. The Chico Enterprise-Record reported she enlisted during World War II. She achieved the rank of lieutenant.

Balmer, the oldest of nine children, worked as a math teacher before that.

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