Nine United Flying Octogenarians, pilots over the age of 80, flew into the Hamilton airport recently for a meeting on “How to Live to be 100.”
They hailed from Spokane and Loomis, Washington; Sandpoint and Cocolalla, Idaho; Vale, Oregon; and Bozeman, Bigfork, Kila, Victor and Belgrade, Montana. They ranged in age from 80 to 91 and mostly flew themselves in their own planes.
UFO began in 1982 and they currently have 1,582 members – each of them joining as Pilot-in-Command. They count themselves as members of the world’s most distinguished pilot organizations. They all share a love of aviation and most of the pilots in the group qualify for the Wright Brothers Master Pilots Award for flying 50 consecutive years. The international, nonprofit organization has members in the United States, U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, Argentina, Australia, France and the United Kingdom.
Vice president William Webber, 91, conducted the meeting and said the group chose Hamilton for the gathering because “it’s a good location in a beautiful valley and the Hangar Café had a space to meet and eat at the airport.”
“I am pushing you to be 100 years old,” Webber told the pilots. “I recommend you read ‘The Road Map to 100,’ a book by Dr. Walter Bortz. Don’t be a couch potato – use your muscles or they will deteriorate.
“2023 is the year I’ll be 100 years old, and I can tell you it is more fun to have a goal, more fun to say, ‘I’ve got something to do’. I’m getting in shape to be 100.”
Webber said that in 1963 he had a “critical thing happen” and now lives by a creed: “I can only control myself and no one else and I am never surprised at whatever happens.”
“I live by this and believe life is going to be fun,” he said.
Each pilot took turns telling about themselves, when they “got their ticket” (pilot’s license), and shared a spectacular story of aviation.
Al Losvar, 87, from Loomis, Washington, said he’s had some “medical overhauls.”
“They didn’t fix anything between my ears,” said Losvar. “There is still lots of life and still lots of spirit.”
Hank Sallmon, of Sandpoint, Idaho, said he enjoys being a general aviation pilot.
“I’m so enthusiastic that I am still able to fly,” Sallmon said. “More importantly, I still love to fly – that’s all I want to do the rest of my life.”
He told about great adventures taking his family on fishing and camping adventures in Alaska and teaching his son to fly.
Ed Consalves, of Victor, welcomed the other pilots to the Bitterroot.
He said “got his ticket” in 1955 and flew constantly for 20 years then took a brief break. Currently, he flies as often as possible and in the winter goes to Arizona to fly in the desert.
“We are a rare group,” he said. “Enjoy your trip back to wherever you came from and fly safe.”
Rog Kittleson from Belgrade apologized for not standing, but has two artificial knees.
“I don’t just plan to live to be 100,” he said. “I plan to be a solo pilot at 100.”
The United Flying Octogenarians flew in, met, had lunch, swapped stories, visited and flew away.
For more information, visit the UFO website at ufopilots.org.
Reach reporter Michelle McConnaha at 363-3300 or email@example.com.