SH man, 101, sets Lebanon aviation record

Sean C. Morgan

At 101, Sweet Home resident Paul Miller last month became the oldest person to fly out of Lebanon State Airport.

Tim “Tebo” Corban was looking for someone over 100 years old whom he could take up to set the record, Miller said. Corban flew a Cessna 172 to Sweet Home on Jan. 26, and Miller took the controls and flew back to Lebanon along Highway 20.

“There was nothing to it,” Miller said. “I was surprised at how easy it was. I was just able to steer it down the road. Of course, if I had to land…. It was the first time I’d ever done it.”

It wasn’t Miller’s first time in the air. He said he did quite a bit of flying as a game warden in Arizona for 29 years around the Grand Canyon, Sedona and Flagstaff. He had to retire at age 60.

“I wish I was still there,” Miller said. “I could still be a game warden.”

As part of his work, he often flew in fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, he said. He usually took a helicopter out to run game surveys or take fish up into the mountains.

But this was the first time he took the controls, he said, and it was a little unnerving at first.

“I never did anything I felt so good about in my life,” Miller said. “I just hated to see it end. You get up in the air and look around, everything is completely different. Everything flies by so fast. That’s why I used the helicopter.”

Flying an aircraft wasn’t particularly difficult for Miller, even at his age. He does more physically difficult activities regularly and believes his exercise is the reason he’s 101.

He still lives alone, mowing his own lawn and cleaning his own gutters. He regularly takes an 11-mile walk in the forest to an area where, he said, he can walk right up to “tame” elk and a cougar.

Miller also is an artist. He has painted but typically works in pencils. His artwork hangs on the walls throughout his home.

“I’m a good driver,” he said. The Department of Motor Vehicles wanted to retest him, but he showed him his Ford Ranger with no bumps on it, and the agency didn’t bother with the retest.

“I’ve been by myself for 11 years,” he said. “I’ve been by myself for so long, I don’t want nobody else, and I get lots of invitations, especially from the women.”

The secret is exercise, he said. “That’s what the doctor says. I don’t lay around like most of these old fellers do.”

When the Trailer Villa park manager’s husband dropped by a couple of weeks ago at his home in the park, with a little piece of cardboard and a phone number, Miller jumped at the chance to get in the air. Corban was looking for someone over the age of 100.

“I just couldn’t believe it happened like that,” Miller said. “It worked out as slick as a whistle.”

Corban told him to watch what he was doing, Miller said.

“I couldn’t remember it all, but it just seemed like there was nothing to it. I just had a good time. That’s all there is to it.”

Corban promised Miller he would take him back up again. “He told me to be sure to be ready when I was 102.”

His birthday is Oct. 26.

A Cessna 172, with 101-year-old Paul Miller aboard, lifts off from Lebanon State Airport.