June 24, 2008
Nathan A. Ferguson
A pilot who was almost as old as powered aviation itself has died. John M. Miller was 102.
Miller, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., died of natural causes on June 23. Miller was born on Dec. 15, 1905, and witnessed some of aviation’s most pivotal events such as when Charles A. Lindbergh took off for Paris on his historic Atlantic crossing. Miller counted Amelia Earhart as one of his acquaintances.
He uttered his last words to his nephew. “I guess my flying days are over,” reported the Poughkeepsie Journal.
Miller started flying when he was 18 and continued until he was 101. He was known as the oldest active pilot in the United States. Miller flew for the airlines, served as a test pilot for Kellett Autogiro Company, and was the founding director of the American Bonanza Society.
One of his most interesting jobs was flying the airmail off the roof of the downtown Philadelphia post office in an autogiro. Three of the airplanes Miller flew are on exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum.
Besides aviation, Miller was known for his healthy lifestyle. He never smoked or drank alcohol and maintained the same weight and blood pressure as when he was 18. For exercise, he took brisk walks up and down hills.
The Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register has posted a detailed biography of Miller’s life along with videos of the autogiro.
Also, see Tom Haines’ blog, where you can post your own remembrances.
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