By Frederick A. Johnsen
Orville Rogers spent his first 99 years not attending AirVenture. Now he has, and plans to return next year. “It took me 99 years to get here,” Orville said, as he paused momentarily in the Vintage aircraft area. Orville’s at home in several EAA camps, as he flew B-25s in training during World War II, and P-51 Mustangs as an Air Force Reserve pilot in Dallas. The P-51s gave him a chance to indulge a bit. “I really enjoyed loops and rolls,” he explained, so he has an affinity for the aerobatic flying he saw this week at AirVenture 2017.
After Mustangs, Orville was off to pilot mighty B-36 strategic bombers from Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, Texas in 1952-53. He followed that with 31 years of flying for Braniff Airways, in everything from classic tailwheeled DC-3s to jet DC-8s. Not done, following Braniff, Orville flew missionary aircraft in Africa, and delivered 46 aircraft worldwide for missionary work. He even flew a single-engine Helios across the Pacific.
Of all the airplanes Orville has flown, he said, “I think the P-51 would have to be the favorite.” Close behind is the mammoth B-36.
Orville came to AirVenture with the missionary organization JAARS.