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The ride of a lifetime

Jim Haslem in the early 1940s.

A Tri-State resident and World War II veteran celebrates a milestone birthday.

KHQA's Michelle Wolf sat down with Jim Haslem, who turns 103 this week.

Jim flew as a private pilot until he retired almost 70 years ago.

In honor of his 103rd birthday and surrounded by his friends from Curtis Creek at Quincy Regional Airport, he was given the opportunity to fly one last time.

Jim Haslem really knows how to make every minute count.

And he's had a lot of them. Tuesday is his 103rd birthday.

To celebrate, Haslem is taking a ride over the Tri-States in a Cessna 414 piloted by Jeff Kennedy, a retired Navy veteran.

"I'm getting very, quite anxious for tonight to see the country again," Haslem said.

Haslem was also in the Navy. He enlisted after Pearl Harbor.

"I loved those experiences in the Navy. I would never regret my time in the Navy," Haslem stated.

It was after World War II, when Haslem was in college at the University of Illinois that he took up flying.

"It was exciting and it was much different and everybody would notice it. And believe me they noticed it," Haslem explained.

This is the first time Haslem has been in the air since 1950.

And Haslem misses it.

"Just the way the whole country looks and its beautiful, beautiful. People say how can you live so long? Well I said I can't do anything. I just kept breathing. You keep breathing you keep living. And I said I'm still breathing so I'm still living," Haslem said.

As for what's next, Jim tells me KHQA he's looking forward to his 104th birthday next year. 104 was the number of his ship in the Navy, the USS Pilot.

Happy Birthday Jim!

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