Over 1,500 pilots now count themselves as members of one the world's most distinguished pilot organizations, the United Flying Octogenarians (UFO). Each of its members has held an airman’s flight certificate in a fixed or rotary wing, sport, balloon, or glider aircraft and exercised the privilege of pilot in command after reaching the age of eighty (80).
UFO's governance includes four Officers, seven Directors, and 30+ Area Representatives located across the country. The organization has a published Charter.
The UFO is a global Tax Exempt organization with membership in all fifty states as well a US territories and several other countries.
Felix Van Campenhout
Fort Worth, TX
W. H. “Red” Bainbridge
Red Bluff, CA
1. THE PURPOSE is to promote longevity and safety in aviation; to represent the interests of senior pilots worldwide; to inspire youth to fly; and to promote fellowship among senior pilots.
2. MEMBERSHIP is open to any pilot who has flown as Pilot in Command in any Class or Category of aircraft while in compliance with the legal requirements applicable in the nation issuing his/her flight authority, on or after reaching the age of eighty (80).
3. DUES shall be specified by the Board of Directors. Payment is due annually, or to accompany an application for membership. Non-payment will result in lapse of membership.
4. THE LIABILITY of each member shall be limited to the payment of annual dues.
On Nov. 2, 1982, eight pilots joined J.L. Robinson at a meeting to form the United Flying Octogenarians. At that time, a total of 31 pilots had mailed their $20* membership fee and all 31 are considered our charter members. Five of them (J.L. Robertson, Harold Hoekstra, T. Jacks, Aubrey Stains and E.K. Bates) are signatories to UFO's first charter signed in November 1982.
John Miller, aviation pioneer, barnstormer, autogyro airmail pilot, US Navy test pilot, airline pilot, and UFO charter Member, served as President of the United Flying Octogenarians from 1989 to 2000. He was the author of countless articles and experiences of aviation interest. It was John who coined the phrase "from Jennies to Jets" the story of his life, a boy who bought a Jenny for $2,000, taught himself to fly and became a commercial airline Captain flying DC-8's.
In 1988, the LA Times quoted one of the founding members, Fred Jacobs, saying that UFO had exceeded 100 dues paying members. By 2007, membership was being reported as over 600.
2011 saw membership take off when a proactive mailing program was instituted to contact all pilots 78 and older. In early 2021, UFO's membership stood over 1,600 pilots.
* Note: As of early-2021, the UFO membership is still only $20!