UFO's descend on local airport

SAVOY, Ill. - SAVOY -- Several UFO's showed up at Willard Airport Wednesday. A few dozen people gathered to watch, listen and speak, but they didn't spend the day looking at flying saucers.

UFO stands for United Flying Octogenarians. Anyone who's older than 80 and still has a pilot license qualifies. It's a pretty exclusive group. One member is a former Angels Among Us.

"People fly in. They should've flown in today, but the weather stopped all that," says Jim Young, LifeLine pilot.

It's not Area 51. Just a rainy, windy day at Willard Airport.

"Wanda Witsitt was the founder of LifeLine pilots. And this is her husband Don. This is Omer Benn," says Young.

"I'm the former chief pilot here at the university for many, many years. I've been a university examiner for 43 years," says Red Bainbridge, UFO board member.

These are pilots who aren't ready to hang up their wings just yet.

"Well I didn't get my license until it was 1989 - 90, so I was not a kid then. My wife gave me a $25 introductory flight, and I've been flying ever since," says Young. "You can hear these guys in the background, all that racket. They get together to tell stories and tell tales on each other."

This is Jim Young's first time hosting a UFO convention. He's a veteran pilot for LifeLine; a service providing people with medical and financial needs free air transportation. So, besides trying his hand at a FRASCA Flight Simulator, he usually has his hands full.

Lunch may have been the day's main event, but one of the group's officers says it took a little more than pulled pork to get things going.

"We have airline pilots, military pilots and instructors. Many cases, in airline pilots, they had to retire at 65 and there really wasn't anywhere to go. Yet they had the love of flying, they wanted to keep flying, and this is how this organization got started," says Bainbridge.

Young is pretty good about answering his phone. In fact, a few years ago, he even took a call from one of WCIA-3's very own.

"I took Jennifer Roscoe up for a flight. She was interviewing me for a story about LifeLine pilots," says Young. "I let her fly for just a little bit. Asked her if she wanted to do it, and she did, but she was not very smooth. She's got to come up for another lesson."

Young did end his simulation with a perfect landing. As the others came to the consensus for now, they still like the view from up there.

"I think the main reason for this organization, one, we like to socialize, but two, we like to share our love of flying with others," says Bainbridge.

UFO's Have regional meetings once or twice a year. The group says there's more than 100 of them right here in Illinois.


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