Flight of a lifetime

Son honors father from the cockpit

Created date

July 6th, 2015
Eagle's Trace resident in cockpit
Eagle's Trace resident in cockpit

When Captain Bill Ruddell, a Southwest Airlines pilot for 15 years, took off on a recent flight from Houston’s Hobby Airport, he had one very special passenger on board—his dad.

Joe Ruddell, a World War II veteran who served as a Navy pilot, was winging his way to Washington, D.C., with Honor Flight Houston, an organization dedicated to honoring veterans by taking them to tour war memorials in the nation’s capital. Donations fund the two-day trip, so it costs nothing for the veterans. 

“This was the first time I’ve flown an Honor Flight,” says Bill. “When I found out my dad was going to Washington, I traded trips with another pilot so I could fly him up there.”

Joe, who lives at



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