TORONTO — George Neal, a career de Havilland Aircraft of Canada test pilot and amateur aircraft builder, is now in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest active, licensed pilot on Earth, at 96 years and 194 days as of his qualifying flight June 2, 2015.
Joining de Havilland in 1947, Neal participated in the certification of many aircraft types, including commanding the first flights of the DHC-3 Otter, CS2F ‘Tracker’, DHC-4 Caribou, as well as being a member of test pilot team on DHC-1 Chipmunk, DHC-2 Beaver, DHC-6 Twin Otter, DHC-5 Buffalo, DASH 7 and DASH 8.
In total, he has logged more than 15,000 hours on 150 aircraft types.
Neal flies his own Chipmunk (CF-JAG) from Brampton Airport on the outskirts of Toronto. He has logged 250 hours in the Chipmunk since 1992.
Following Neal’s record-setting flight from Brampton to Pearson International Airport, where the Chipmunk was put on display for the 2015 Induction Gala of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, the Guinness record application was put forth by Tom Appleton, chairman of the Hall of Fame.
“George’s experience is unparalleled in the world of aviation, I believe, holding a Canadian Pilot’s License from 1936 until now,’’ Appleton said. “He is as tireless as he is professional, and we are proud of his airborne exploits, which seem to go on indefinitely.”
Neal also built a World War I Sopwith Pup fighter aircraft from original plans and drawings, and flew it to Rockcliffe Airport (CYRO) in Ottawa, home of the Canada Aviation & Space Museum where he was chief test pilot for many years. He also restored a World War II Hawker Hind biplane fighter. Both aircraft are now part of the museum’s permanent collection.
Neal, who was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 1995, said, “Flying has been a part of me for most of my life, and I believe it has kept me able to doing what I like best. And I plan to continue to fly my Chipmunk for a long time yet.”