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Tue, May 15, 2012

Gone West: Evelyn 'Mama Bird' Johnson

Held The Record For Most Hours Flown By A Female Pilot

The aviation community recently lost one of its icons. Evelyn "Mama Bird" Johnson (pictured in 2003 photo), who began flying in 1944 and amassed a Guinness World Record 57,635 hours, passed away May 10th at the age of 102 at an assisted living facility in Jefferson City, TN.

Her flying career spanned over 60 years. Multiple media sources including NPR and the Washington Post report that during that time, she earned multi-engine, helicopter, and seaplane ratings. She was acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records as having flown more hours than any other female pilot. Johnson was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2007.

To put the number of hours in Mama Bird's logbook in perspective, it would amount to about six and a half years in the air. During that time, she flew about 5.5 million miles ... or about a dozen trips to the moon and back. But most of her flying was done close to home in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. Mama Bird managed a small airport in Morristown will into her 90s, and was a designated FAA examiner. One of her students was former Tennessee Senator Howard Baker.

Mama Bird did not stop flying until glaucoma took her vision and an automobile accident claimed part of her left leg.

The only person to rack up more hours flying the Mama Bird Johnson was the late Ed Long ... an aerial powerline inspector in Alabama.

FMI: www.nationalaviation.org/johnson-evelyn/

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