UFOs spotted at Danbury Airport
UFOs touched down at Danbury Airport Wednesday morning, but there was no cause for alarm. No, not Unidentified Flying Objects. These UFOs were United Flying Octogenarians. It’s a club for what some may call rare birds, pilots who are 80 and older. The group began four decades ago and now boasts 1,900 members worldwide.
“We have a passion for flying,” explained Bob Barker, president emeritus for the organization.
Once a year, members who live in the Northeast meet up for the group’s reunion in Danbury.
“We get together and talk and talk and talk,” Barker told News 12.
Jack Rosen, 86, touched down from New Bedford, MA, in a two-seater he built. Rosen wore a shirt that was apropos for the day. It said: “I don't know how to act my age. I've never been this old before.” He was joined by his co-pilot in life, wife Sandi Rosen.
“We got married in 1971. We bought a house and a plane,” Rosen said. That plane was the first of several the couple would own over the years.
“We crossed the Atlantic 12 times. Sandi did eight of those trips with me,” Rosen recalled.
Rosen was one of only two aircraft pilots who flew in for the get-together. Twenty-one planes within a 150-mile radius were slated to come, but afternoon thunderstorms kept most of them grounded and made for a smaller than expected turnout.
“Mother Nature always wins,” Rosen said.
“You know, it doesn't matter how many we have. It's a quality experience for those who come,” Barker stated.
Two dozen members still made the trip by car to bond over their enthusiasm for aviation.
“You dance with the clouds, and it’s just a glorious feeling. It becomes a piece of your soul,” Barker told News 12.
Anyone who has solo piloted an airplane at least once after his or her 80th birthday is eligible to join the organization. UFO’s motto: “Where the history for aviation is still flying.”
“This organization has meant so much to me and has meant so much to so many people,” Barker said.
To maintain their licenses, general aviation pilots complete a flight review with a certified instructor every two years and undergo regular medical checks. Barker said pilots are very safety conscious and know their abilities better than anyone, so they can tell when it’s time to stop.
That day isn’t on the horizon yet for Rosen, who said he thinks soaring the skies helps keep him young at heart.
“It keeps you astute and aware,” Rosen said.