Monday, May 21, 2012

Saluting A Tennessee Pioneer: Evelyn Bryan Johnson

Evelyn Bryan Johnson, who passed away last week at the age of 102, was more than the most famous person in the Morristown-Jefferson City community - she was an aviation pioneer, and will forever remain so.

Over the years, I met and spoke with her many times. She was always most friendly and she held a quiet authority which barely told of her incredible life and many adventures. Her influence will be felt for many, many years to come.

"She was 34 when she took that first flight and continued flying until glaucoma restricted her vision and caused her to quit in 2006, the year she turned 97.

Johnson, who died May 10 at 102 in an assisted living facility in Jefferson City, Tenn., held the Guinness World Record for logging the most hours in the air for a female pilot. By the time she stopped flying, she had logged 57,635.4 hours, or more than 6 1/2 years in the air.

At the time of her death, Johnson had flown an airplane more hours than any living pilot."
"Affectionately nicknamed "Mama Bird," because she treated her flying students as a mother bird does her babies, Johnson said she trained more than 5,000 student pilots and administered more than 9,000 flight checks for the FAA.

Johnson was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2007. She also was an inductee in the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame, the Flight Instructor Hall of Fame and aviation halls of fame in Tennessee and Kentucky.

"Evelyn loved flying, and she loved teaching," said Bob Minter, founder and chairman emeritus of the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame. "There are airline pilots today flying around the world that Evelyn trained, both men and women."

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