Akron Beacon Journal
By Marilyn Miller
Beacon Journal staff writer
It was perfect flying weather: sunny skies, temperatures in the upper 40s and little wind.
Former pilot Spasoje “Spike” Miskovic, 73, got his “Ultimate Gift” Friday afternoon at Akron Fulton International Airport.
His first attempt to fly one last time was scrapped Tuesday because of a loose cable on the airplane.
Crossroads Hospice in Green arranged the flight. Spokesman Bob Pontius said the program grants hospice patients a perfect day, something they always enjoyed doing.
Miskovic flew in the plane he once owned, a six-seat Beechcraft Baron 58. Pilot Bob Headley said the last time he took his longtime friend for a ride was eight years ago.
Wearing his brown leather jacket with a Yugoslavia patch on the right side and an East Central Ohio Pilots Association patch, Miskovic got out of an ambulance in his wheelchair, but walked to the plane.
“Sometimes he will fight you to get up out of bed, but today he got right up and said he was ready to go,” said Najiyyah Brown, a nursing assistant at Wyant Woods Care Center in Akron, where Miskovic resides. “He knew what he was going to do today.”
As aides helped him get in the plane, he waited patiently for Headley to take his seat.
He gave caregivers a thumbs-up sign as the plane taxied on the runway.
“I built this place,” he said, then pointed to his left: “That’s the old terminal.”
Headley, who has known Spike for 35 years, said the garage/maintenance facility for airplanes, now Summit Air, was named Airspect Air Inc. when Miskovic owned it in the 1970s.
Miskovic’s nurse, Marian Presto, also went along on the flight. She said she had never been in a small airplane before.
“I was born in a small airplane,” Miskovic joked. “This used to be my airplane.”
As the pilot pulled back on the throttle, Miskovic yelled, “You’re all right.”
Spike looked down the runway and told the pilot: “OK, you’re clear.”
Headley asked his friend where he wanted to go.
Miskovic said he didn’t care and enjoyed looking out the window.
After a bit, Miskovic said, “Bob, I’m ready to go back now, you can turn around.”
When the plane landed, Headley helped his friend off the plane. But Miskovic insisted on walking back to the waiting ambulance.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.