World’s Oldest Pilot From Iowa is Grounded

RED OAK, Iowa  --  Ernie Smith was recognized as the Guinness Book of World Records' Oldest Pilot in the World in 2016. Now, after a year of holding that title, he is no longer able to fly.

A series of health issues has led to Smith not renewing his medical certification to fly.

“The first thing was a heart attack and they called it a mild heart attack, there was no heart damage or anything,” said Smith.  “I was supposed to go back in four months and they’d clear me to go for my license again, but then I had a stroke.”

Smith can no longer live at home; instead, he resides in an assisted living center in Red Oak. He doesn’t drive, and his license is coming up for renewal. Though his left hand mobility is limited, he can play guitar.

“I got a good right side, and I’m very lucky to have a right hand, I’m not totally helpless,” said Smith. “Like playing my guitar, friend of mine and I  played once or twice a week, we got to where we were pretty good.”

On December 21st, Smith will turn 100 years old. He will not be able to fly on his own, but is hoping to fly a plane with assistance from his instructor Norm Yeager, who also flies out of the Red Oak Airport. The weather may determine if a plane will fly.