Some ill-informed people have taken to criticizing pilot Jimmy Leeward, who died flying in the Reno Air Races yesterday, with disparaging remarks about his age, regardless that initial reports are showing that mechanical problems are most likely what caused his accident. Jimmy Leeward, at age 74, was a qualified racing pilot with a current unlimited type aircraft license from the FAA, which allowed him to be flying the aircraft he crashed in yesterday.
This kind of disparagement about the age of flying aviators reminds me of Longmont pilot, Cole Kugel, who while not a racing pilot, was a senior aviator who was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2001, acknowledging this lifelong flying enthusiast as the world's oldest qualified pilot. According to Airport Journals, "A steady work ethic gave Kugel a reputation as a cautious pilot. In 78 years of flying, he never had an in-flight emergency or as much as a close call." Cole died in 2007 at the age of 105.
Blue skies Jimmy Leeward...say hello to Cole Kugel.
Related: Jimmy Leeward Facebook page
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