When does a professional pilot retire?

After 70 years in the cockpit - the pilot (69) is retiring

Linkes mother was already a passionate aviator - she completed her pilot training with high pregnancy. The US helicopter pilot got into the cockpit before he was even born. But that's not the only career curiosity: John Linke admits that he suffers from a fear of heights. Climbing a ladder or stepping on the railing of a tall building - unthinkable for the sky-striker. Nevertheless, his colleagues describe him as a "born aviator".

Immediately after completing his thrust in 1966, the American completed his first flight lessons. Three years later he moved to Vietnam. There he flew a few missions for the US military, but spent most of his stationing time in helicopter maintenance. "That probably saved my life," the 69 year old sums up today.

After a few more professional positions, in some cases even as an independent aviation entrepreneur, he finally began his professional career as a rescue pilot at LifeNet in 2001. A dream job, as he sums it up. "I would have done it for free. But we'd rather not tell my employer that," smiles the experienced helicopter driver. But after 13,000 flight hours he is now stepping back from pitch and stick and pushing his Bell 407 into the hangar for the last time. Now is the time to retire. "I've often spoken to people about retirement, and everyone always said: 'You'll notice when it's time for it'. And that's exactly what happened to me," says Linke. He still has a few things he wants to tackle, "because I'm healthy and still have a little money on my side," says the neo-pensioner, looking back at his retirement. "Otherwise I would have to bequeath my money to my children in the end," he laughs enterprisingly.

Linke will miss his colleagues, however, as he emphasizes: "We have a lot of fun in our job and like to fool around, but when it comes to action, there is no better team. All the people here are absolute professionals."

Looking back on his work in the cockpit, John Linke compares two of his most popular aircraft from Vietnam and Nebraska: "I really enjoyed flying the 'Huey'. It's like driving a sports car. The feeling in the LifeNet helicopter, on the other hand, is more like being behind the wheel a Cadillac. "

And he doesn't want to give up flying altogether, even after 50 years with his own pilot's license anyway. For five years, Linke and his wife worked on a self-constructed aircraft that they will continue to take off regularly. "All for the sake of flying," said the high-flyer.

(red aig)