Chicagoan Howard Levinson, a month shy of his 85th birthday, became the most senior pilot to receive his initial Airline Transport Pilot License on May 24, 2008. He pursued the ATP, the license required to fly for the airlines, because it was the only fixed-wing license or rating that he didn’t have.

Born in 1923, Levinson decided to fly a decade later when he saw the Graf Zeppelin fly over his house as it circled the city, escorted by two Army pursuit planes. After joining the Army and learning to fly, he took command of a B-24 with its crew of 10 flying photo-reconnaissance missions in the South Pacific at age 21 with a total of only 322 flight hours.

Following the war, Levinson continued serving with the 2471st Air Force Reserve Combat Training Center at O’Hare. On the Fourth of July, 1949, he piloted a C-46 in formation as part of the National Air Fair held at O’Hare.

Although he pursued a nonaviation career, as a civilian Levinson continued to fly actively in a wide variety of aircraft and in 2009, was inducted into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame.[1]


[1]          Interview by author; Howard Levinson, aviator and WWII B-24 commander in South Pacific; interviewed 6/14/2018.