Yesterday, pilot John Lawton was scheduled (weather permitting) to celebrate his 9oth birthday by using his Cessna 172 to make 90 flying passages across the US-Canadian border. According to the flight plans, Lawton would spend an estimated one to two hours at an altitude of around 3,500 feet and perform a series of tight or almost aerobatic figure-eight patterns in his aircraft. Lawton’s non-pilot daughter was also scheduled to be aboard while his pilot son was going to stay on the ground so that no one could question who was at the controls.
Lawton has been a pilot for 56 years and has more than 6,000 hours of flying in more than 40 models of aircraft. He is also a recipient of the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award for 50 years of safe flights.
However, the AP has noted a rather long list of other achievements over Lawton’s long life – which included involvement in developing Lacrosse guided missile systems, collecting snowflakes in flight during lake-effect snowstorms in Buffalo and initiating avalanches by dropping explosives in the Italian Alps. In fact, Lawton led a 1968 research team that created the Skadi – an electronic rescue beacon to locate avalanche victims.
The FAA’s Buffalo approach control in New York had signed off on the flight plan, but as of today, there is no word whether the weather cooperated and allowed Lawton to do the flight on Monday.
AP Photo/Tony Dejak