Flying with Miss Evelyn

Aloft with 'Mama Bird,' the World's Senior Flight Instructor

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Evelyn Bryan Johnson

Evelyn Bryan Johnson Charles Mayer/NPR News hide caption

itoggle caption Charles Mayer/NPR News

Since the first moments of aviation, pilots have religiously recorded the length of their flights. With nearly 58,000 hours at the controls, instructor Evelyn Bryan Johnson of Morristown, Tenn., has logged more flight hours than any living person.

On Johnson's 94th birthday, NPR's Scott Simon traveled to Morristown to take a lesson with "Mama Bird" — a nickname given to Johnson by one of her students a few decades ago.

After nearly 60 years as a pilot, Johnson still has a young girl's fascination with the sky. "You forget about your problems while you're up," she says. "You've still got 'em, but that doesn't matter, you've had a little rest from it. It's just a wonderful thing."

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