Family Life

Aged 100, this fiesty pilot still commands the skies

Mayetta Behringer is not one to be found sitting around. The 100-year-old has a habit of taking off- flying, we mean. 

“I don’t know where it came from but I always wanted to fly,” Behringer, from San Francisco, told local media

Born in May 1918, flying was still in it's infancy when she first became interested in aeroplanes. 

“[My] dad wanted to know what I really wanted to do and I said ‘Fly,'” Behringer recalled. “He said to me, ‘you’ve never been up in an aeroplane. How do you know you’re gonna like it?’ and I said, ‘well, I’ve dreamed it for ages’ so he said, ‘OK, let’s go for a flight.'”

After that first flight, she was hooked and went on to earn her pilot's wings in 1945, a time when there were very few women in the skies. Unfortunately, it was not a success that she could share with her husband, who had died in a plane crash during World War II. 

Eventually, she met and married another pilot- Commander William Behringer.

“He flew jets off of carriers and I loved that,” Behringer recalls. “I asked him why I couldn't fly and land on a carrier and he just laughed at me.”

She spent the post-war years as a commercial pilot and a flight instructor- often taking her young family on cross-country flights. In 1961, she even trained in a military jet to break the sound barrier.

“The pilot let me fly the aeroplane — perhaps I shouldn't say this publicly because it may not be good for the pilot,” she revealed. 

Six years ago, at the ripe age of 94, she decided that she could no longer safely pilot a plane on her own. So her fellow female pilots, for whom she had paved the way, stepped in. 

In honour of her 100th birthday, they again took to the skies.Crying with joy as the took off, she loved every second. 

“I think it’s the freedom of being up there all by yourself and you are in control,” she said. 

If she was to start over today, she would have loved to have been a stunt pilot. 

“I can’t imagine sitting on the ground all my life,” she laughed. “That’s an impossibility.”

Search results for
View all