Area woman takes flight for 80th birthday |

Area woman takes flight for 80th birthday

Virginia "Flo" Vernon finally got to fly over her house in Grass Valley in the Cessna 150 behind her.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Virginia “Flo” Vernon has harbored a wish for many years: fly over her house off Lime Kiln Road near Grass Valley.

That dream was realized Friday when neighbors Bill and Linda Hawkins offered Vernon a plane ride over the Grass Valley area, a day after her 80th birthday.

Bill’s brother-in-law, Bill Sunnergren, flew his Cessna 150 into Grass Valley from his home base in Truckee to pick up Vernon for the ride.

“I can’t believe it,” Vernon said as she stepped into the two-seat airplane at the Nevada County Airport, point-and-shoot camera in hand.

As Bill and Linda Hawkins and three friends watched, Vernon gingerly strapped herself into the passenger seat.

Less than 10 minutes later, the silver-colored plane was in the air.

“Here she goes,” friend Lola Lawrence said as the plane took off. “Go! Go! Go!”

Another friend, Dorothy Chervenick, also cheered.

“I’m just as excited as she is,” she said.

For the next 50 minutes, Sunnergren, a retired commercial pilot who owns the plane with his flight instructor wife and another couple, flew over Vernon’s house, Grass Valley, Auburn and Bullard’s Bar Reservoir.

This was her first ride in a small aircraft in decades. Rather than turning green at the gills, Vernon said she enjoyed the plane ride so much, she’s ready to do it all over again. “I’m not even shaky,” she said as she stepped off the plane.

Bill Hawkins said he promised Vernon a plane ride for a birthday present this summer after showing her pictures he had taken from the air during a ride with his brother-in-law.

“She said, ‘I’ve always wanted to fly over this area,'” Hawkins recalled.

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