Pilot, 97, celebrates tiny town in big way

Lebanon

Myerstown is celebrating its 250th anniversary, and many who live in the small Lebanon County community are commemorating the event in a big way.

One local man is piloting the efforts. Bob Brocklehurst was flying high as he performed aerobatics to honor his hometown.

“Ready, Bob?” his co-pilot asked.

“Yes, sir!” Bob replied with a smile. 

The 97-year-old climbed into the cockpit two weeks ago. Although he needs help on the ground, Bob took control in the air. He was a fighter pilot for 28 years.

“This is where I belong,” he said as he suited up in the pilot’s seat. 

When the wheels lift, so does Bob’s spirit. 

“Alright, Myerstown Flight 250, here we go!” his co-pilot said. 

Bob began twisting and twirling through the air, doing tricks thousands of feet above the ground.

For a moment in time, he was on cloud nine.

“Well, we did it,” he said.

After World War II, Bob was a cabinet salesman by trade. The father of four chuckled as he recalled the time he convinced his wife to let him go skydiving.

“She said, ‘do you really want to go?’ I said yes. She said, ‘well, if you want to go kill yourself, okay.’ And I said, ‘well, will you go with me?’ She said, ‘yes, I’ll go with you.'” 

Bob laughed as he recalled memories and moments he shared with his wife. But behind Bob’s grin was a hint of grief. 

Lillian died in 2005. Going on without her is tough.

“Oh, being without someone,” he said, then paused and looked into the distance. His eyes began to fill with tears. Moments later and with a shaky voice, he muttered, “I hope you never find out.” 

When Bob’s in the sky, he’s closer to his angel. But all too soon, the plane descends and the flight is over. 

“I had a great time,” he said. “We went back and forth to get used to it and then we’d move all around.”

Until the day he’s called to see Lillian up there, he’s going to keep living down here. 

“I’d rather be back up in the air,” he said.

Bob 98’s birthday is Tuesday. He’s already planning his 100th birthday party.

You can meet him at the official Myerstown Anniversary Celebration on Aug. 25.

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