Octogenarian Pilots Take to the Sky


Bert Bratko, 90, is the group's secretary and treasurer. He lives in Massachusetts and flies several times a week. Sometimes he pilots Angel Flights, charitable trips that fly patients to hospitals from home, and sometimes he flies with friends for what he calls a "$125 hamburger," which is when they fly to another city for lunch.

"I'm 90 and still flying. As long as I live… that's what keeps me going," Bratko said. "Sometimes when I don't feel great or feel sorry for myself for being old, I'll get up and fly. It gives me a nice feeling of satisfaction."

Lopez echoes the sentiment when asked why he loves to fly.

"If you ask that question to any pilot, almost invariably, they'll say it's the freedom," Lopez said. "There certainly is a feeling of being high above the earth and perspectives change. People in cars become little ants that you have no relationship with. Landscapes and mountains and cloud formations pop out and it's another world. It's very exhilarating."

Lopez's wife still makes the sign of the cross every time he flies.

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