CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A pilot is making history right in our backyard. Robert J. Burns has flown 31,000 hours in a helicopter without any violations, an accomplishment that was recently recognized by the Helicopter Association International.
Burns holds many titles, including father, grandfather, husband and more recently — award-winning pilot.
He's spent 30,979 hours in the sky, and he's carefully recorded each one of those hours in his pilot log. “Well they don’t mean much, but I thought maybe when I take my last hoorah in life, well, at least I’ll leave something besides these log books that show a positive that I've had some accomplishment with my flying,” Burns said.
Even in his retirement, he’s making aviation history. He was recently recognized by the Helicopter Association International for 31,000 hours in the sky without a single violation.
"I'd say I had a career looking down on people," Burns said with a laugh.
During his prime, he was interviewed by several news outlets and shared his wisdom with other young pilots. He says his favorite part, however, was the view from up high.
"There’s always something different to look at," he said. "It’s like a endless TV set.”
Unfortunately, he spends most of his time now looking at a screen, after health complications ended his career. "This is what ended my flying career, after I had a triple bypass," Burns explained.
Now, he struggles with Parkinson’s disease and uses a walker to get around. They're obstacles he says he's ready to take on like he did his first time flying.
"Your life is merely an experience of changing circumstances and you need to learn how to adapt, because that’s what flying is and that’s what every day is really," Burns said.