A few weeks ago, Anne Osmer left her home in Hendersonville, N.C., went to a local airfield, climbed into the cockpit of a Diamond DA20 and took off on her first-ever solo flight. Nothing unusual in that, except Osmer is 83 years old and didn't take her first flying lesson until she was 80.
"I didn't really think about soloing. I just wanted to see how far I could stretch my mind, see how much I could accomplish," Osmer tells NPR's Melissa Block.
Osmer says the scale of her achievement didn't hit her until many days later, when she looked at pictures from the day.
"It's sort of a goal you work for, being the age that I am," she says. "I've had just little itsy-bitsy goals to go for. At the beginning, all I wanted to do was be able to taxi the plane down the runway. Then my next goal was to be able to turn the plane around. ... I never thought I'd go and solo."
But Osmer acknowledges it wasn't exactly easy: First, she had no desire to learn flying until she was 80. Then, she says, her thinking capacity and reflexes were not what they had been.
"Also, it was a good 60-plus years since I broke open the last textbook, and of course, I knew nothing about engines or anything like that," Osmer says. "It was a whole new ballgame out there."
Her message to others: "I hope I will inspire somebody who always kept saying, 'Oh, I always wanted to, but I'm too old.' No, you're not. No, you're not. Go for it."