Not even the sky is a limit for this 85-year-old pilot - DatelineCarolina

Not even the sky is a limit for this 85-year-old pilot

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Reece shows off his Wright Brothers Memorial award. He received the award for 50 years of flying. Reece shows off his Wright Brothers Memorial award. He received the award for 50 years of flying.
Reece sat back during our flight over Columbia. Reece sat back during our flight over Columbia.
GoPro video captured this candid moment as our Carolina News photographer was struggling with her camera in the back seat. GoPro video captured this candid moment as our Carolina News photographer was struggling with her camera in the back seat.

By Malique Rankin

Would you have the guts to strap yourself into a four-passenger plane with an 85-year-old pilot? It may sound crazy at first, but this senior citizen has decades of experience in the cockpit.

Maurice Hall, known as Reece to his friends, found his love for flying in 1952 when he was a student at UNC Chapel Hill at the time. He and his colleague would spend their spare time flying around the state. Reece was drafted to the military during the Korean war shortly after graduating. Reece returned to the states from the Korean war in 1956. It only took him two years to receive his private pilot's license, but it wasn't before some scary beginning lessons. 

"I got out of the airplane. And started to walk off and I was so scared my knees started to buckle," Reece chuckled. "I had to grab the side of the airplane," after an engine blew out during one of his first lessons. 

He went to take his pilot's exam after logging the required hours in training. 

"I hadn't studied, I didn't know anything about those tests. But I went in there and took it. And a week later, I got a letter back saying I got a 72 and you passed," said Reece about his written private license test. 

Reece's love for flying only soared from there. He has owned 38 planes throughout his lifetime. He currently owns two small planes, one being the four-passenger plane we flew.

At 85-years-old, Reece still finds himself reaching some unlikely milestones. He has received the SCAA Ambassador's Award for flying to all 59 South Carolina airports. He was also awarded the Wright Brothers Memorial Award for 50 years of flying just last Saturday.

Even after 64 years in the sky, his wife still doesn't approve.

"She does not care to fly," said Reece about his wife's discontent with the hobby.

Regardless of his wife's opinion, Reece still finds himself at the airport several times a week. 

"At one time, I enjoyed flying so much I would fly every day ... but now it's down to two or three times a week," said Reece.

If you're in Columbia and see a little blue and white plane in the sky, there's a good chance its Reece having a good time in the cockpit. 

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