He rose to the rank of squadron leader in the RAF - but without ever getting the chance to train as a pilot.
Now, at the age of 84, John Hyde decided to fulfil an ambition he has had for more than 60 years.
After spending £1,000 on flying lessons, he has finally taken to the skies over Cambridgeshire.
It was the latest challenge Mr Hyde had set himself as part of a bid to stay active after his wife Joan died in 2013.
When he originally signed up to the RAF for his National Service in 1951, he was told he was not suitable to be a pilot. Instead he was offered the post of navigator. By the time he retired in 1991, he had been promoted to squadron leader - still having never been behind the controls of a plane.
John decided not to go on holiday this year and instead used the money to learn to fly at Conington.
It shows that a squadron leader can still reach for the sky - even at the age of 84.