A Texoma flying legend was recently honored by the state for his time, talent and hard work. At 97 years old, he not only continues to fly but also still manages his city's airport.
As if living through nearly a century wasn't an accomplishment enough, this Texoman can pride himself on the thousands of students he's taught who are now licensed to fly. His years of educating and love of sharing the skies are what makes Len Miller this month's Newschannel 6 Community Service Champion nominee.
Miller is slow to slow down.
"Working somewhere, he's always working. Plowing, shredding, changing a tire, working in airplanes, he's working somewhere," Bill and Bob Haynes said.
He's been flying 73 of his 97 years, managing the Quanah Airport since 1980, and is still employed by the city.
"He maintains all the area and mows it. He stays active. I think that's the key. It keeps his mind and body active and that's the key to his longevity," Len's daughter, Candi Miller, said.
These days, the airport is not a bustling' place, but it is important for the farming community. Crop dusters like the Haynes brothers depend on the runway and hangars for their aircraft. The brothers both took lessons from Len in the 1980's. One has even made a career of it, flying as a commercial pilot for American Airlines.
"He built it up in this community. For a small area he's had a lot of pilots and sent them off to get their license," Candi said.
Len still instructs one student to this day and from the sound of it, this old pilot is no push over.
"When he'd get through with you, you learn it and you'll know it and you'll remember it," Alvin Lingnau said.
Flying turned into a family affair for the Millers. Candi said they grew up flagging in the fields. She got her license and encouraged her son to do the same when he was a teen.
"It was a big confidence builder for him and later went into the Army," she said.
You know you're in good hands when Len's in control. Through the years, he's flown more than 200 different airplanes. Len was recently given top props with the prestigious Aviator of the Year award at the 31st Texas Aviation Conference in Austin. His friends and family say it's an honor well deserved.
"He's a great guy that's put a lot of time in and been good to a lot of people in this area. He's done a lot for the community," the Haynes brothers said.
Len has one piece of advice shares with his young students.
"Find you a job you enjoy and you don't have to go to work. It's not work. You can live to be 102!" Len said.
Among some of Len's other awards, the TXDOT Aviation Division named the fly boy Airport Manager of the Year in 1996.
If you know an outstanding person in our community, tell us about them. Each month, we select one person as our Community Service Champion nominee. We're going to honor them all in October at a banquet and we'll announce our Champion of the Year.
Whether they go over and above with their volunteer service or inspire those around them in other ways, we want to hear their stories.
You can make a nomination by clicking here.