On Friday, former WWII pilot Harry Moyer potentially broke a world record for being the oldest licensed individual to complete a solo flight.
To make the occasion even more special, Moyer completed the flight on this 100th birthday. The WWII pilot took off from the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport in his 1963 Mooney airplane. After about 15 minutes into his flight, he descended and landed in the same location. The event likely made him the oldest pilot in the world to complete a solo-flight.
Following the plane’s landing, Mooney exited the cockpit flashing a thumbs-up to the small crowd of around 80 bystanders. The crowd gathered around him after he landed to celebrate the accomplishment and Moyer’s birthday. Of course, the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to the pilot, as well.
“Thanks to all you wonderful people for showing up and participating in this day of my life. I can’t believe I’m up here,” Moyer said to the crowd.
WWII Pilot Moyer Has Flown Planes for Almost 80 Years of His Life
Since 1942, Moyer has had a passion for flying planes. It began when he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet while attending the University of Akron in Ohio and studying engineering. During WWII, he flew missions in Italy, North Africa, and China. In fact, Moyer defended China against Japan during WWII as part of the famed American Volunteer Group also known as the “Flying Tigers.”
In 1944, the pilot returned to America, but he never gave up flying. He went on to work as a flight instructor in New Mexico until the end of the war. Later on in 1976, Moyer bought the 1963 Mooney plane he used in his 100th birthday solo-flight. He continued to fly the same plane on a regular basis during the next four decades.
“Up there is a different environment,” Moyer said on Friday. “You’ve got the whole world behind you.”
Many pilots are forced to give up flying for various reasons as they age into their senior years. However, according to his son-in-law Pete Pepper, that is not the case with the WWII veteran. Moyer has continued to fly his plane throughout the years multiple times a week, taking off from the same San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport.
“For Harry, this is no big deal since flying has been a part of his life for ages,” Pepper said of Moyer.
Guinness World Records Looking Into Record-Setting Flight
Pepper organized Friday’s flight for his father-in-law. Additionally, he submitted a non-stop video taken during Moyer’s flight along with an application to Guinness World Records as proof of the 100-year-old’s feat.
The title of oldest solo-flight is currently being confirmed by the record-keeping agency, but Pepper expects a confirmation of the record-setting flight soon. Regardless of the Guinness World Record title, Moyer’s family still says he is a “hero” and “living legend.”
“Grandpa is a war hero, a fighter pilot, a Flying Tiger” said Moyer’s grandson Kurtis Moyer during the post-flight celebration. “He just flew a plane on his 100th birthday. He’s a living legend.”