MORRISTOWN: Pioneering female pilot Evelyn Bryan Johnson, who held the Guinness world record for most hours in the air for a female pilot, died Thursday at age 102, a US funeral home said.
Bryan started flying in 1944 and went on to run a flying service and manage a small-town airport. The Farrar Funeral Home in Jefferson City, Tennessee, said she died Thursday.
''I don't care how many problems you have down on the ground, you forget about them (while flying),'' the petite, bright-eyed woman known to her students as ''Mama Bird'' told The Associated Press in 2005.
Bryan was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2007 after flying for 55 years and spending the equivalent of seven years in the air. She was estimated to have flown the equivalent of 23 trips to the moon and never had a crash, despite her share of mechanical troubles.
''(I) had two complete engine failures, didn't scratch either airplane,'' she said. ''Had a fire in the air, but got it down safely.''
At 95, Bryan was still managing the Moore-Murrell Airport she had run since 1953, where she had taught more than 3,000 student pilots and certified more than 9,000 pilots for the Federal Aviation Administration.
She taught public school for two years before meeting and marrying W.J. Bryan. Together they started a dry-cleaning business. When World War II came, her husband hoped to learn how to fly in the service. He landed at an air base in Florida in charge of laundry.
''He started in to fly but ended up washing clothes. I was washing clothes and ended up flying,'' Evelyn said in 2005.