Jun Takahashi, age 91, professional pilot.
A nonstandard man – aside from his height of six feet, his way of life has also been unconventional. His total flight time has been over 25 thousand hours, meaning he has spent almost three years in the sky.
The desire to be a pilot was a dream from his childhood. After preparatory training in the Naval Air Forces, he became a Navy bomber pilot. His was one of only two planes out of the forty-unit flying corps to survive through multiple battles on the Southern Front. After returning, he went into the Tokkōtai special attack corps for a suicide mission at the Battle of Okinawa, and exchanged farewell cups of water (a Japanese soldiers’ traditional toast with water instead of sake at a final parting). His order was rescinded at the last minute, and he was given another mission. Instead of flying in formation, he flew repeated solo bombing runs. His was the only plane to survive the otherwise total annihilation. After the war, he had numerous flights with various small aircraft as a private-sector vocational pilot. Participating in founding the Japan Flying Association, he trained countless younger pilots as an instructor. Also, he organized the Japan Red Cross Flying Corps, and has offered support to relief efforts. Although he has seemed to be a maverick since embarking on a freelance career at around age 50, there is no one in the aircraft world who does not admire Mr. Takahashi.
“The one who has been put off by me most must be my wife. I am truly grateful to her, though I don’t put it into words,” he says, and puts out his tongue. The stylish, slender flyer enjoys the peaceful sky.

Jun Takahashi

Born in Tokyo in 1922 (the 11th year of Taisho). Joined the Navy in 1941 as a Class A trainee in the Naval Air Forces preparatory course. Fought in numerous battles as a chief pilot of Type 1 land-based attack aircraft (Mitsubishi G4M, aka the one-shot lighter) in World War II. After the war, worked actively as a professional pilot of small aircrafts and gliders; he flies about twice a week even now. Honorary president of the Japan Flying Association. Acclaimed for his efforts in promoting sport aviation, he received the “Paul Tissandier Diploma” from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. In this spring of 2014, he has just been awarded a Guinnes world record for the oldest active commercial pilot.
Cooperation: Japan Flying Association, IBEX Aviation Co., Ltd.

This article has been originally appeared in “Shinsei” magazine, June 2010 issue, published by RINRI Institue of Ethics. Partially rewritten to update for this internet relaesing.

Takahashi before a sortie at Izumi base during
the Battle of Okinawa operation (Contributed by himself)

Spirit and Spine
‘Kitohone’

created by
THE SPIRIT AND SPINE
CREATIVE FORCE,Tokyo

project direction
Gaku Okubo (ISUKE INC.)
photography
Yoshitomo Tanaka (Vivot)
site design
ISUKE INC. and ICA
title calligraphy
Kenryo Hara (Kikkokai)