Tag Archives: United Flying Octogenarians

EV CASSAGNERES — FLOWN WEST AT AGE 84

EV 1928 – 2012

I have lost a good friend, a fellow pilot, a UFO and a bodhran player.  A UFO? And what’s a bodhran player, pray tell?  I will explain but first a word or two about Ev.

Ev was a seven-time Connecticut state cycling champion; and a national undefeated 200-mile record holder.  He served honorably in the U.S. Army’s First Cavalry Division, infantry, on the front lines in the Korean conflict, and was awarded two Purple Hearts.  He loved cycling and dancing but flying was his passion.

Ev knew Charles Lindbergh and the family personally very well and authored two books comprising the complete history of the Spirit of St. Louis from its conception to its place in the Smithsonian.  Ev wrote three books and was the pre-eminent authority on classic Ryan airplanes.  He was proud of his flights in the rare 1936 Ryan ST, the only survivor of five that were built.  A model of the Ryan hangs from the ceiling in his kitchen.

Ev performed as “Solo the Flying Clown” in air shows around the northeast.  His was the first flying clown comedy act at the world famous Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in New York.  He flew several of Rhinebeck’s early aircraft.  For one summer, Ev performed as a wing-walker atop the wing of a 1941 Stearman PT-17 biplane.

A UFO in this case is a United Flying Octogenarian, a member of an international society of pilots who are, or were, active licensed pilots at the age of 80 or older.  I believe his last flight as pilot in command was one I flew with him earlier this year in his 1953 Cessna 170B.  Now about the bodhram.  It’s a celtic tympanic instrument.  I hope you enjoy the video.  Do go full screen.

UFOs AT PEARL HARBOR

My recent travels included a stop at Pearl Harbor.  I had been there before, many years ago.  This time  it seemed different; there was an added dimension.  I saw Servicemen in uniform off-base.  It is not Pearl Harbor that has changed, it’s everywhere else.  Before Vietnam a soldier on leave wore his uniform in public with pride and respect.  Today a uniform engenders both scorn and respect from various disparate members of the public.  We have lost something when our soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen are seen as controversial figures when in uniform.

God and the Soldier, we adore,
In time of danger, not before.
The danger passed and all things righted,
God is forgotten and the Soldier slighted.

~Rudyard Kipling

One of the many highlights of the trip was a luncheon at the Sam Snead restaurant at the Navy-Marine Club House in Honolulu.  It was a monthly affair of pilots who call themselves UFO’s because they are members of a select group known as the United Flying Octogenarians – having flown as pilot in command of an aircraft after achieving the age of 80.  There were 14 of us at the table.  The pilot sitting at my right was one of the two declared Republican primary contenders for the U.S. Senate, John Carroll.  He said “You know, everyone I know at this table is a Republican”.  John has been responsible for much of the environmental reform on the Islands.  I live in the Northeast.  Some things are different in Hawaii.

I BELIEVE IN UFOs – IN FACT, I AM ONE

It is with a great deal of pleasure and ego that I announce my acceptance for membership in a most exclusive social order. By virtue of having flown an aircraft as pilot in command after achieving the prestigious age of 80 years old,  I have qualified for membership in the society of United Flying Octogenarians.

AFTER THE END OF THE QUALIFYING FLIGHT

Bart Bratko, the President told me that, for now, I am the youngest old man in the club. I can’t wait to get my UFO cap.