UFOs invade Danbury Airport for annual meetup

The organization is a social club for senior pilots who are defying the conventional rules of aging.

Marissa Alter

Jun 20, 2024, 1:51 AM

Updated 32 days ago


UFOs descended on Danbury Airport Wednesday, but the invasion was a welcome one—the United Flying Octogenarians’ annual meetup in the Northeast.
“We're a bunch of kids who never grew up who are still flying airplanes after our 80th birthday,” explained UFO President Ken “Brownie” Brown. “To qualify to be a UFO, you have to be a pilot in command of your own aircraft with a certified pilot’s license.”
The organization is a social club for senior pilots who are defying the conventional rules of aging.
Just ask Jack Rosen who arrived from New Bedford in a plane he built. Rosen’s shirt could be the group's slogan: “It's weird being the same age as old people.”
Rosen, who’s 87 years old, said he feels like he’s still 18, “but the aches and the pains remind you.” He’s one of 1,800 UFOs worldwide who refuse to let their age keep them grounded. The organization started in 1982 with half a dozen members.
“We are the aviation history that is still flying,” Brown told News 12. The 84-year-old made the trip to Connecticut from Seattle, Washington. “Our oldest member right now is 104. We have four centurions.”
It was Brown’s first time at what’s become a yearly reunion in Danbury. The gathering began over a decade ago, organized by president emeritus Bob Barker.
“I first discovered this organization when I was 78, and I couldn't wait to be 80 to join,” Barker recalled, adding that he flew on his 80th birthday and promptly put the application in the mail. “The purpose of our organization is to provide camaraderie and improve the life experience of elder pilots, and this does it in spades.” For those who think age 80 and up shouldn’t soar through the skies, “We say we are living proof that that is not the case,” Brown countered. “Our pilots work at a higher standard than the FAA requirements. We evaluate before we go on every flight. Is today a day I should be flying or is today a day I shouldn't be flying? Brave and bold is not one of our mottos.”
To maintain their licenses, they complete a flight review with a certified instructor every two years and undergo regular medical checks. But one thing is clear for this crew: flying never gets old.
“What is there not to love about flying? First of all, you're in command of your own space and time. You get to go where you want, when you want, how you want,” Brown stated.
“It keeps your mind working, and that's what I do—just keep the mind working,” added Rosen.

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