RED OAK, Iowa- A 100th birthday party was held at the Red Oak Airport Thursday for Ernie Smith.
In 2016, the Guinness Book of World Records named Smith the Oldest Active Pilot in the World. Since that honor Smith suffered a heart attack, and a stroke. Overall his health is still good, but he has lost some of the use in his left hand.
Since he cannot pass an aviation physical, he is not legal to fly a plane solo at this time.
One his 100th Birthday Smith planned to fly the rented Cessna 150 he has flown in for several years. But low clouds and mist kept the visibility below what is needed to safely fly.
“Not that I care whether or not that I fly on my birthday,” said Smith “Thats not that important to me, this whole deal is a lot more important to my friends and great grand daughters than it is to me.”
Friends and well wishers by the dozens came to the airport lobby here for cake, and to visit with Ernie.
A group of friends presented Ernie with a wooded airplane prop, with a clock in the hub.
“Where’s the plane that goes with it?” quipped Ernie.
After the group sang Happy Birthday to Ernie, he advised the group singing to him, to “not quit their day jobs.”
Eventually the hangar door was opened and Ernie and another pilot took the Cessna 150 out to taxi on the ramp, but not fly due to the weather.
“I would say if I had to think up something, maintain your friends and appreciate them,” said Smith. 'The other thing is do what you love to do.”