103 Years -- A Lifetime And An Era In Flight
Ralph Charles, one of the country's oldest pilots, died Feb. 2 at age 103, in Somerset, Ohio. In his youth he worked with the Wright brothers as a welder. He later ran his own airport, and in the 1930s he flew Stinsons and Ford Tri-Motors for TWA and other airlines. During World War II, Charles flew as a test pilot for Curtiss-Wright. After the war, he gave up flying for many years, but never lost his passion for it. "Sometimes when I would mow, I would imagine my tractor was a plane and I was rising up into the sky," he told the Associated Press in a 1999 interview. He took up flying again in 1995, and owned an Aeronca Defender. He last flew in the summer of 2001.