At 104, Agnes Van Put gets her chopper ride

By TED WADDELL
Posted 11/11/20

MONTICELLO, NY — On Monday, November 9, it was “up, up and away” for 104-year-old Agnes Van Put of Livingston Manor and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther. Upon landing, Van Put was able …

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At 104, Agnes Van Put gets her chopper ride

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MONTICELLO, NY — On Monday, November 9, it was “up, up and away” for 104-year-old Agnes Van Put of Livingston Manor and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther. Upon landing, Van Put was able to check one more thing off her bucket list.

It all started about a year ago, when Gunther attended a senior picnic in her constituent’s hometown. When asked what she’d like to do, Van Put, the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum’s co-recipient of the 2019 “Catskill Legend” award, replied that she would like to take her first-ever ride in a helicopter.

Van Put was born on August 15, 1916 in Prospect Park, NJ. “Not Brooklyn—I’m Jersey girl,’ she said emphatically after returning to earth at Swinging Bridge Marina, a full-service marina founded 50-some years ago and located on the shores of the nine-mile long, 889-acre reservoir.

Agnes and her husband, Emil, moved to the Catskills in the 1970s. For decades, she was active with the local fly-fishing center, working in the gift shop when she wasn’t cooking up batches of her famous jams.

When Michael Croissant, part of the family-owned Swinging Bridge Marina, heard of Van Put’s wish, he contacted his friend John Kjekstad of Helicopter Flight Services in Linden, NY to set up the flight.

So,  Van Put finally got her wish as the Bell 407, a four-blade helicopter powered by a Rolls-Royce/Allison turboshaft, took off from a sandy landing zone near the water into a cloudless afternoon sky.

During the flight—crewed by chopper jockeys Michael Holland of the helicopter tour company and Croissant, who has 31 years of experience in the pilot's seat—Van Put got a bird’s eye view of her hometown, a local casino, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts and several lakes.

“She’s lived long enough that she deserves it,”: said Croissant.

For about 30-minutes, she left the world of fishes to soar where the eagles dwell.

“Agnes is a wonderful person and is always doing so much to help the community,” said  Gunther. “It has been a hard year for all of us, but seeing Agnes happy today shows that we can always work together.”

Upon alighting from the helicopter, Van Put said, “I loved every minute of it.”

Asked what else is on her bucket list, she thought for a couple of minutes before fondly recalling the first car she and Emil shared as a couple.

“I would like to take a ride in a 1929 Ford roadster with a rumble seat,” said  Van Put, looking ahead to her 105th birthday.

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