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Sky’s the limit! Retired RAF pilot has wish to fly again made a reality

Home news

A care home in Sevenoaks organised a special trip for an RAF veteran to take to the skies once again. 

When the team at Care UK’s Weald Heights on Bourchier Close learned that 91-year-old Ray Watson was keen to dust off his pilot’s hat and fly a plane for the first time in years, they were determined to make it happen.

After first taking to the skies at the age of 18, Ray joined the RAF where he spent 27 years serving his country. Following his RAF career, Ray spent his later years working as a flying instructor at Biggin Hill. Here, Ray achieved the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators prestigious Master Air Pilot Award in 2009. 

Throughout his career, Ray achieved over 21,000 flying hours and in excess of 12,000 instructional hours spanning over 70 years. Keen to put his skills to the test and see if he still had the knack, Ray was delighted to return to the cockpit.

The team at Weald Heights and John Willis, from Biggin Hill Reunited and the Falcon Flying Group, organised for Ray to fly a Piper PA-28 Cherokee at Biggin Hill, where he was joined by John, who Ray had taught to fly several years go.

Commenting on the experience, Ray said: “There’s no better feeling than flying! During my time with the RAF, I took every opportunity I could to take to the skies, so I was incredibly excited to be back in the cockpit.”

The visit was part of the home’s Wishing Tree initiative, which encourages residents to put wishes forward, allowing them to reconnect with a past hobby or try something completely new – from flying on a plane to enjoying a fish and chip supper, no wish is too big or small.

Maria Covington, Home Manager at Weald Heights, said: “Ray absolutely loved his flying lessons, and is always sharing fond memories of his time in the sky, so when he told us he was interested in getting back in the cockpit, the team knew they had to make it happen.

“Our wishing tree initiative is a great way for residents to share their dreams and interests, and it’s so rewarding to be able to make these a reality. Ray had a wonderful time and was delighted to be able to fly again once more – he’s already talking about his next trip!

“I’d like to extend a big thank you to the team here at Weald Heights, as well as to Biggin Hill, for making Ray’s wish come true!”

Weald Heights is a purpose-built care home designed to deliver luxury hotel-style comfort for residents, complete with a café, hair and beauty salon, cinema and beautiful gardens. The home is divided into separate residential, nursing and dementia care suites, encouraging close-knit communities where residents can get to know each other, and where people with similar needs can be cared for together.

Open to new residents

Bourchier Close, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 1PD

Weald Heights

CQC Rating: Good
  • Residential care
  • Dementia care
  • Nursing care
  • Nursing dementia care
  • Respite care
  • End of life care
  • Day club

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