Pilot still flying at 101

May 28, 2008

Flight instructor Richard Gibbs signs off Ernie Trent as a sport pilot.

Ernest Trent is not your ordinary pilot. For starters, he’s 101 years old and still in the left seat. Add to that a flying history that includes training aircrews to fly B-25s during World War II and ownership of 13 different airplanes.

Although Ernie, as he prefers to be called, no longer holds an FAA medical, he still drives his Mini Cooper daily and can exercise the privileges of a sport pilot. He received his most recent sign-off in an Avid Flyer in August 2007 from flight instructor Richard Gibbs, a friend and member of the Somerset (Pennsylvania) Aero Club flying group that Trent helped found in 1940.

“Usually I go with him, but he is officially signed off,” said Gibbs, who added that Trent flies only a couple of times a year but still enjoys getting aloft. And he passed the flying bug on to his family. Trent’s grandson is a former Navy pilot who now flies Boeing 757s for UPS.

What does a 101-year-old man do for fun when he’s not flying? Among other things, Trent enjoys eating out—often driving himself 50 miles to a favorite restaurant—and performing routine maintenance on his car.