Gordon Jones of Alberta, Canada, has been taking to the skies for more than 70 years, and with his 90th birthday just weeks away, the WWII veteran shows no signs of stopping now. Earlier this month, CBC News interviewed the octogenarian about his lengthy career that the news channel dubs as “fate.”
As a young man, Jones signed up to serve in World War II. His father had served in the army in WWI, Jones explained, and urged him not to enlist in the army, saying it was “terrible.”
“So I can’t swim, I can’t fly either at the time, but I decided to join the air force,” Jones told CBC.
In 1941, he earned his Royal Canadian Air Force wings, and was on the list to head overseas. But in 1942 he received a telegram reassigning him to Trenton, Ontario, to train as a flight instructor.
"My files had already been sent overseas,” “Jones told author Anne Gafiuk. “It was kind of a shock, really.”
Jones went on to train hundreds of pilots over his career, each session meticulously recorded in his flight log. In 1994, he purchased a vintage 2-seater Tiger Moth that was used extensively as a training aircraft during WWII, which he still flies today.
These days, his pilot’s license requires him to fly with another pilot, so he can’t give rides anymore. But that doesn’t bother him.
“The main thing is the freedom of it. You can just go anywhere you want,” He told CBC.
Jones’ stories captivated Gafiuk, who originally sat down with him intending to write a piece of fiction based on his life. Instead, she wrote his real-life history. “Wings Over High River: Conversations with A. Gordon Jones” is now available for purchase.
He plans to continue flying “until they tell me I can’t,” he joked with Gafiuk. But, he takes safety seriously. “As an old flight testing officer, I will know if I meet the required standards."
Jones turns 90 in a few weeks.
Read more about his life at Bomber Command Museum of Canada, and watch CBC’s interview with Jones below.