Francesco Volpi, Italian pilot who flew 236 operational missions during the war and notched up a record of almost 85 years at the controls – obituary

Francesco Volpi, who has died aged 105, was thought to be the world’s oldest active pilot, with an uninterrupted record of almost 85 years at the controls since gaining his licence in 1935.

Although restricted after turning 99 from flying solo, until last year he would celebrate each of his subsequent birthdays by taking to the skies above his native city of Trento in northern Italy.

Into his late nineties he flew at least once a month, for instance over the Dolomites to see the mountain goats. In his younger days he had thought nothing of taking his Piper Aztec from Trento to Libya for the day, to Elba for a swim, or to Paris for onion soup, but on reaching his centenary he trimmed back to going…

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