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Remembering Evelyn Bryan Johnson (1909-2012)

Evelyn Bryan Johnson

Evelyn Bryan Johnson

November 4, 1909 – May 10, 2012
Enshrined in 2007

It is with great sadness that the National Aviation Hall of Fame reports the May 10, 2012, passing of 2007 Enshrinee Evelyn Bryan Johnson, known to legions of her student pilots as ‘Mama Bird.’ She was 102. We encourage you to visit the NAHF biography of Evelyn that was posted here at the time of her enshrinement in 2007.

Ms. Johnson first learned to fly in 1944, ultimately earning notice in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most flying hours – over 57,000, the equivalent of nearly seven years in flight – of any then living person.

Though she lost a leg due to a 2006 auto accident, and stopped flying at age 96, she continued to actively serve as the manager of the Moore-Murrell Airport in Morristown, Tennessee up until a few months ago. When someone would ask Ms. Johnson when she plans to retire, she’d tell them, ‘When I get old enough.’”

Well over 9,000 students claim instructor ‘Mama Bird’ Johnson as their check pilot, and her numerous awards and achievements include FAA Flight Instructor of the Year in 1979.

Many of her proud protégés hailing from all sectors of aviation were in the audience to celebrate her Hall of Fame enshrinement, not surprised at all that she wowed the crowd by sharing her wit, charm, and passion for flight. We note that her fellow 2007 inductees that historic evening included Walter J. Boyne, Steve Fossett and Frederick W. Smith.

Though this aviation legend has left us, she leaves a legacy now carried upward and onward by generations of her former students touched by ‘Mama Bird’s’ caring instruction and inspiration.

Godspeed and tailwinds, Evelyn Bryan Johnson.