Skip to main content

PLITEK® Makes WWII Veteran’s Dream a Reality

Captain Dick Nelms Visits Smithsonian and Shares Stories

Captain Dick Nelms Visits Smithsonian

A dream for Captain Dick Nelms, a 98 year-old World War II Air Force veteran, was to fly a jet. Upon hearing of the American Hero’s wish, PLITEK® CEO and Pilot, Karl Hoffman, decided to make this dream a reality along with a few volunteers with a flight from Illinois to Washington D.C.

“This was a special trip for Dick. Although Dick gets to fly still, he had never flown in a private jet. Watching him get into the co-pilot seat, strapping his 4pt seat belt, and seeing the smile on his face at take-off with his hands on the yoke was just an amazing site. He was all smiles. Dick was most excited and eagerly looked forward to this part of the trip.” – R. Larsen, Volunteer on the trip

Upon landing in Washington D.C., a curated tour was arranged at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum:

“The second highlight to witness was the opportunity to get a private tour at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center from a tour guide exclusively providing tours to VIP guests. Dick got to see aircraft from the beginning of aviation to modern day fighters. He was extremely interested in seeing the German Focke -Wulf Fw 190. He had heard of these during the war, but never got to see one. During the visit, our tour guide brought Dick to this plane and showed him first-hand. Dick was extremely interested hearing about the history and seeing first-hand this specific plane.” – R. Larsen Volunteer on the trip

The trip to Washington D.C. also included visiting Mount Vernon and dinner on the yacht experience before flight to PLITEK®. During the visit from Captain Nelms, the entire PLITEK® crew had a once in a lifetime opportunity to honor the WWII American hero and hear him speak about his experiences.

Captain Nelms piloted a B-17 Flying Fortress over Germany and Nazi occupied Europe in 1944. He completed 35 missions and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, five Air Medals, and a Presidential unit citation among other prestigious honors for his military service. Dick explained he was stationed with the 447th Bomb Group 8th Air Force in Rattlesden, Suffolk County, England. He flew his missions from Rattlesden and after returning home from one mission, the crew counted more than 300 holes in the airplane. The plane, named “Pandora’s Box”, was so badly damaged on the mission it never flew in combat again. Amazingly, not a single crewmember was killed or injured on the mission.

Still today, Dick volunteers at the Seattle Museum of Flight in Washington state by speaking twice a month about his experiences.

“The time we spent with Dick was something very special. The stories, though funny or sad, were stories that will carry on for future generations. The American pride he instills in those he talks to is beyond comprehension.” – R. Larsen Volunteer on the trip

Special thanks to Captain Nelms for his service and sharing his experiences. Also, to the volunteer team allowing this trip to be possible.