“Mama Bird,” the Guinness Book world record holder for having the most flying hours of any female pilot, as well as a member of the Women in Aviation Pioneers Hall of Fame was born today in 1909. Now WE know em

KCLO_evelyn07

Evelyn Stone Bryan Johnson was born November 4, 1909 in Corbin, Kentucky.

She graduated from Tennessee Wesleyan College, and taught school in Etowah, Tennessee for two years before attending the University of Tennessee.

Evelyn earned an English degree at Tennessee, met and fell in love with Wyatt Jennings Bryan.

The couple married and moved to Jefferson City, Tennessee to start a dry-cleaning business.

When World War II came, her husband joined the Army Air Corps to learn how to fly.

However, he landed at an air base in Florida in charge of laundry.

Evelyn took flying lessons back in Tennesse and loved it.

“He started in to fly but ended up washing clothes. I was washing clothes and ended up flying,” Evelyn would later say in 2005.

Then in 1953, Evelyn became manager of the Moore-Murell Airport in Morristown, Tennessee.

Evelyn displays her aircraft certification cards in this 1960 photo from the News Sentinel archives.

Evelyn displays her aircraft certification cards in this 1960 photo from the News Sentinel archives.

When her husband died on November 11, 1963, Evelyn consoled herself in the skies by opening a flying service at the small airport she managed; mostly to train pilots but also to ferry sightseers, passengers and cargo.

Evelyn sits in the cockpit of a T-33 jet trainer at the Knoxville McGhee Tyson Airport in 1957.

Evelyn sits in the cockpit of a T-33 jet trainer at the Knoxville McGhee Tyson Airport in 1957.

“I don’t care how many problems you have down on the ground, you forget about them (while flying),” the bright-eyed and barely 5-foot-tall Evelyn was later quoted as saying.

In 1965, she married Morgan Johnson.

Evelyn Johnson became affectionately called “Mama Bird” and went on to clock over 57,000 flying hours while becoming the oldest flight instructor in the world.

She trained more pilots and gave more FAA exams than any other pilot.

Evelyn’s office at Morristown’s Moore-Murrell Airport, became filled with awards, citations and mementos.

She was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2007 after flying for 55 years and spending the equivalent of seven years in the air.

Evelyn was estimated to have flown about 5.5 million miles – equal to 23 trips to the moon – and never had a crash despite her share of mechanical troubles in the sky.

She was even named in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the most flying hours of any woman and the most of any living person.

Evelyn Johnson was inducted into the Women in Aviation Pioneers Hall of Fame, the Tennessee and Kentucky aviation halls of fame and others.

She was even awarded a bronze Carnegie Medal for rescuing a helicopter pilot after he crashed.

At the age of 95, Evelyn was still managing the airport she had run since 1953, where she had taught more than 3,000 student pilots and certified more than 9,000 pilots for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Evelyn was finally grounded at the age of 96 after developing eyesight problems that led to a car accident on September 10, 2006 that resulted in her undergoing a leg amputation.

Even after that, she still continued to manage the airport.

On July 21, 2007, Evelyn Johnson was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio, alongside astronaut Sally Ride and adventurer Steve Fossett, among others.

Evelyn Johnson died May 10, 2012 at the age of 102.

Her scrapbooks, memorabilia, and other papers from the period 1930 to 2002 are housed in the Archives of Appalachia at East Tennessee State University.

Now WE know em

mamabirdx

 

 

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