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Tomorrow Today

Alabama man loves to fly -- and it shows

Ed Long
Long doing what he loves best  

Holds record for most hours as pilot

December 31, 1998
Web posted at: 3:33 p.m. EST (2033 GMT)

From Correspondent Rick Lockridge

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (CNN) -- This century has seen the rise of aviation from the Wright brothers to the space shuttle. And there have been heroes -- Earhart, Lindbergh, Glenn and others.

But there's a pilot in Alabama who's spent more time flying than any of them. And he's still going strong.

Ed Long's office is the cockpit of his small plane, and the view out his office window is the Alabama countryside. It's not a bad job, flying all day at 2,000 feet, checking power lines for an Alabama utility.

world record
Long is in the Guinness Book of Records for having logged the most flying hours as a pilot  

Still, it's a little low-profile for a guy who should be one of the most famous pilots in the world, if he weren't so determined not to be.

"I don't care anything about fame or fortune," says the 83-year-old Long. "I just ... boost the aviation business." (Audio 85 K/6 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

John Edward "Ed" Long is in the Guinness Book of Records for most flight time by a pilot. He's amassed more than 64,000 hours -- seven years -- in the air.

"He doesn't drink whiskey, and he doesn't smoke cigarettes," says Robert Hudgens, Long's boss at Montgomery Aviation. "He doesn't do anything but fly. He's obsessed." (Audio 94 K/8 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

CNN's Rick Lockridge reports on the pilot with the most hours in the air
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Ed Long talks about putting wings on his bicycle as a young boy -- hoping and fearing it would really take off.
85 K/6 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

'He'll fly until he drops dead'

Born just a dozen years after the Wright Brothers' historic flights at Kitty Hawk, Long yearned to fly from early on.

"I went to work for this flying school," he says. "They agreed to give me 30 minutes of flying time for a week's work. No pay, just the flying time. So that's the way I started out."

Never a daredevil himself, Long watched -- and admired --those who pushed the envelope. Amelia Earhart ... Charles Lindbergh ... and John Glenn, another man who wasn't about to let age stop him from doing what he loved.

"Age is no factor," Long says. "I don't notice much difference in what I do now than when I started years ago. If I did, I'd quit flying". (Audio 136 K/11 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

That's not likely to happen, says Long's wife, Frances.

plane in air
Long says age won't stand in the way of his flying  

"He'll fly until he drops dead," she says. "Really, I mean that's his life, his whole life."

"Well, someday they're gonna bury him," Hudgens' laughs, "and then he'll quit."

No time soon, Long says.

"I still enjoy it, yes, sir," he says. "I still look forward to each morning when I get up and go to work. Glad I'm able to go."

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