My Spouse Believes Old People Should not Fly
No - seriously.

She read an article of how a 63 year old died while piloting an aircraft and the only reason they knew that happened is another pilot was in the plane and landed it.  So, now she is of the belief people my age, 65 should not fly.  Especially since commercial airline pilots can't fly for the airlines any more past 65.  Of course, we all know she is wrong. However. I guess that is what happens when you make assumptions based on beliefs and tidbits of information here and there.  I told here there are pilot flying that are over 80 years old.  Of course the first person she thought of was her 80+ year old mother and she freaked out about that.  Of course not all people age the same, some people stay healthier and sharper longer than others.  At this point I'm thinking it's a good thing she doesn't write the FARs or work for the FAA.  LOL

My guess is it will take time to turn her thinking around.  I know she doesn't understand this is not like driving a car where you just walk in, take an eye test and renew for another 4 years and taking a person's license away is pretty hard.  Between the Medical Certificate and the Flight Reviews the people who are unable to act as pilot in command are weeded out.  Can someone be missed, sure.  It's just unlikely.

In my case I am 65, overweight, type 2 diabetic on metformin, a statin and mild BP medicine.  I have  Special Issuance, which is a PIA, but my numbers are still good and I am working on the overweight thing.  That is part of why she is worried.  I guess it's good she cares.  In the meantime, I am working on an Instrument Rating and am about to take the written soon.  I am pretty sure she has no clue about what it all takes to earn the rating or even what is involved in a Flight Review.  Can you imagine how much different the roads would be is every 2 years you had to demonstrate you know the rules of the road and that you know how to control and recover from a skid, make an emergency lane change, come to a rapid, controlled stop.  Add to that getting a Dr to sign off you are physically fit to drive.

I don't plan on stopping until I can't get a medical or can't pass a flight review.  I expect that will be a while down the road.  (I didn't tell her about Basic Med.  That would really freak her out.)  Just hoping eventually I can turn her thinking around.  I guess I can try to educate her anytime she appears open to it.  In the meantime ...

41 Replies
Reid Sayre
4 Posts
Go to and search for "oldest pilot." Prepare to be shocked.
There is a WWII vet in my EAA chapter who just this year decided to hang it up and is selling his RV-6.  He still attends meetings and goes along for the rides tho.  Worry about the known, the unknown will get you regardless, and just keep flying.
We have people like that in out local EAA chapter too.  Not sure if we have any flying octogenarians, but I know of 2 people in their mid-70s that are still flying.

My wife was like anyone can fake out the Dr for the medical.  Really, that would be pretty hard to do.  We didn't even get into the flight reviews or what it takes to get a new rating.  I guess I'll try to enlighten when I get an opportunity.  In the meantime, I'll keep flying.
Hi Michael -  I can appreciate the problem.  When I decided to go back to flying (at 76-years old and 25-years away from it), my Wife was not happy!  The rest of my family were very quiet about it, as were the majority of my friends.  Now, I'm back in the left seat again, fat, warm, and fuzzy.  The other half has reconciled herself more or less, that this is what I am going to do.  The children have become very supportive, and I just had the opportunity to take my youngest Daughter flying with me again.  Suddenly, my friends are now asking when I'm going to take them up.  I think that my wife is slowly becoming adjusted to the situation, and although not totally on-board, has gotten past the yelling and hollering stage.  Hang in there.  Focus on the job at hand, and when complete, the Wife may follow along.  Good luck!  - Vic -
J Killian
41 Posts
Hi Michael, That is what spouses do!,  Seriously, I bought my second plane last year (74 years old) and I truly believe that is what keeps me going.  My wife did not want me to buy another plane, but she realized that it was necessary to keep me happy.  I fly as much if not more than I ever have at any point in my life - all I have is time!  Yes, I limit myself - no IFR and very limited night time flying, but still enjoy it every bit as much as I ever did.  Much about flying and owning a plane is the constant study, reading, preparation, maintenance, and being involved in the aviation community.  These are all great things to keep our minds and bodies active and involved.  Am I the pilot that I once was? --- NO, but I am a more cautious and considerate pilot than I used to be. My skill level has not diminished - and I fly with a CFI at least once a year to satisfy both myself, family and the FAA (even they only need every two years).  Good Luck and Good Flying!
"You're only as old as you feel." True story! Take care of yourself so you can fly safely.
Also, BasicMed shouldn't freak people out. It involves being under the care of your primary physician who most people see at least once a year, opposed to seeing an AME every 5 years for a 3rd class medical. Plus, AOPA's Medical Self-Assessment course encourages pilots to actually take care of themselves so they can keep flying longer.
Victor - I can understand that.  My wife was none too happy about it at first.  Now, she is more accepting, but I'm pretty sure she wants me to stop - not happening.  She did say she would go flying with me if I got an instrument rating.  Guess what I am working on now. ;)

J Killian - I have been forbidden from buying or building an airplane (for now)  I am in 2 clubs though.  One with a 182 and the other with a Warrior.  Not sure how she is going to be able to stop me when we are retired, out of debt, and have cash on hand.

One of the reasons I got back into flying is I work in Northern Virginia, but I am an Ohio resident.  I find a 3-4 hour flight home preferable to an 8 hour drive.  Plus - no hassle of a commercial flight.  The IFR rating will help with that trip.

In the meantime, I have been working my way through the VA Aviation Ambassador Passport book.  62 airports down, 4 to go.  That was a great way to build XC hours.  That and doing Young Eagle flights

You're doing the right thing by losing the weight. I guess a solution is not to take her flying. Would that make her feel better?
One must truly wonder at the irrationality that so many people express about flying.  Why should they see it as so different from operating any other vehicle?  It is not so unlike driving a car, though the "roads" are defined differently.  Some folks think parallel parking is difficult, simply because it requires coordination and spatial judgment.  But drivers of all ages do it routinely.  Landing an aircraft is not so different. Age is not the determinant, it is a matter of healthy capability.  As you pointed out, that matter is verifiable with regular medical checkups and self-monitoring.  It is true that health and capability may decline slowly with age; but, once again, periodic testing can verify that a given driver, pilot, or other complex machine operator has maintained sufficient capability to continue to do so.  Does that mean that all risk has been eliminated?  Of course not!  Some accidents will occur: heart attacks or strokes will occur, mechanical failures will occur, and some people will do stupid things; therefore cars and trucks will crash, airplanes will fall from the sky, ships will sink, spaceships will blow up, and other kinds of tragic mishaps will occur.  But such risks have been minimized insofar as possible by proper maintenance, and periodic testing and inspection, of machines and the people who operate them, in order to obtain the benefits that justify operating any technology.  But let no one delude himself or herself that the number of years through which the operator of one or another machine has lived is an appropriate means to determine their present capability to operate safely.
My mission is to buy a Beechcraft A-35 or 36. They are just like the Beechcraft Baron that I flew for 13+ years but only have one engin to operate.    
The FAA was making me jump through too many hoops is why I quit flying the Baron and went to an LSA airplane that I could fly with a valid drivers license.
i do not do weather or night flying anymore, but have felt very limited that I could only take one passenger with me.