Air Force veteran from Eugene finally gets to fly

EUGENE, Ore. - A Eugene man and Air Force veteran finally gets to earn his wings this weekend.
KVAL News explains why 83 year old Richard Rife is getting ready for his first flight--ever.

It's possible no one else in Eugene has been a fan of the San Francisco 49'ers, longer, than Richard Rife. That's why the Air Force vet is finally going to fly, for the first time.

He is what you'd call, old school."The fact that I don't use a computer and I don't use a cell phone," says Rife, with a hint of pride.

And would you believe this Air Force vet, has never been in an airplane, ever. Not even during his active duty days in the Korean War, when he aspired to be an aerial engineer.

Rife told KVAL News, "When they had seen I'd been cutting meat for 6 years, they put me into food service." Yes, the meat cutter never got his wings, but while stationed in San Francisco,

Rife got hooked on the 49'ers and went to games in old Kezar Stadium. "Frankie Albert was the quarterback and he would draw plays in the dirt," explains Rife.

That passion for a team gave Richard's son an idea to give flight to his father's dream. "You know what, it didn't take any talking into, which surprised me because he (Richard) always said he wouldn't fly and I said Dad--why don't we just fly there?" says Kevin Rife.

Richard agreed with the plan and will take off Friday afternoon from the Eugene Airport. Tom Adams asked, "Richard--what do you think your first flight is going to be like? Like a 'white knuckle' special or what do you think?" Rife replied, "No, no--it's going to be a good flight. I'm not worried; I'm thinking about getting down to San Francisco and seeing the ballgame and going down and having an Irish coffee."

So 60 years after his discharge, Richard Rife can check off "flying" from his bucket list. Having time with his son and his beloved 49'ers...priceless.

Kevin Rife: "It's going to be fun--it's going to be exciting." Richard answers, "It's just going to be the 2 of us, so it will be even more fun."

These days, Richard helps at the family business, Rife's Furniture, by vacuuming the showroom floors.

He turns 84 on October 21st.