ST. GEORGE — UFOs filled the skies over St. George Monday morning — but they weren’t unidentified flying objects. These UFOs were members of the United Flying Octogenarians, a worldwide social organization of more than 1,400 pilots who have been the pilot-in-command of an aircraft at age 80 or older.
Planes carrying UFO members began arriving at 10:30 a.m. at the St. George Municipal Airport. There to greet them was 86-year-old Russ Roberts, a resident of SunRiver who is the Utah liaison for the UFO group, and his wife, Carole Roberts.
Russ Roberts still flies his CTLS light sport plane twice a week on average and credits flying to helping him maintain his good health and sharp reflexes. Since a physical and medical examination are required for all pilots every two years, Roberts said, he feels his love of flying motivates him to remain in good condition.
Landing at the airport Monday morning were Don Pantone, 87, of Ogden; Don Davies, 86, of Springville, with his wife, Twila Davies; and Ralph Cravens, 86, of Midvale. Scheduled to join them later was David Bilodeaux, of Coral Canyon in Washington City.
The United Flying Octogenarians was founded in 1982 by a group of 31 pilots. It is a nonprofit organization with members in the United States as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, Argentina, Australia, France and the United Kingdom.
Russ Roberts, the Utah area representative for the group, began flying in 1946 after he joined the U.S. Navy.
“I soloed in 1946 in a Stearman twin engine called ‘the yellow peril’ as a Naval aviator and have never stopped flying,” he said.
Russ Roberts said he flew for the Navy for 25 years and was actively involved in World War II and the Korean conflict.
The pilots visited the Western Sky Aviation Warbird Museum at the airport and had lunch at the Riverwalk Grill in SunRiver, followed by “a nap on the grass at the golf course,” Russ Roberts joked.
This type of social activity happens frequently among UFO participants, he added.
Most participants left late Monday afternoon.
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