After a long career as an airline pilot, it was time for American Airlines captain Brian Lenzen to retire.
Lenzen, 65, has loved his line of work, flying for a handful of other airlines before joining American Airlines in 1985.
“Most pilots, they don’t really consider it work,” Lenzen, from Chaska, Minnesota, told KARE-TV. “It’s one of those dream jobs.”
Lenzen had the desire to work a year or two longer, but said that at age 65, it was mandatory that he hang up his pilot’s hat.
After 34 years with American Airlines, Lenzen prepared his final flight: an international haul to Dublin with some of his favorite crew members, people that he got to hand-pick.
The final flight was bittersweet for Lenzen, who said he had a “wonderful time” celebrating at a Dublin pub with his crew before flying back to the U.S.
When the plane landed safely stateside, Lenzen received a heartfelt, emotional farewell from a choir that happened to be on board his flight.
The choir members were from St. Anthony on the Lake, a Roman Catholic church in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. They were returning from the trip of a lifetime to Ireland when they learned it was Lenzen’s final flight.
According to KARE-TV, the choir asked a flight attendant if it would be OK to sing an Irish blessing for the retiring pilot as a way to honor his years of commitment to his job.
When Lenzen walked off the plane, he was greeted by the lovely sounds of the choir, singing a song of blessing for the captain.
“I’m walking off the jet bridge and I hear this singing going on, and I’m like, ‘What the heck is going on up here?'” Lenzen said.
As he stood contemplatively, listening to the choir’s melodic phrases and heartfelt lyrics, Lenzen was moved to tears.
Standing with a handkerchief in his hand, Lenzen wiped away tears.
“It was just a very special moment,” Lenzen said. “I’m kind of an emotional guy anyway, and so I got a little tearful realizing that was for me.”
Lenzen will miss going to work, but said he is also looking forward to spending time with his wife at their lakeside home.
He is thankful for his pilot’s career, where duty and desire were united as one and the same.
“You get paid for doing something you love, it’s a pretty neat thing,” he said.
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