The sky is truly the limit for Ivor Button and Elizabeth “Betty” Bromage (both UK).
The two soaring seniors hold the records for oldest wing walker (male) and oldest wing walker (female).
What is wing walking, you might ask? True to its epic name, this activity peaked in notoriety in the 1920s, and it consists of standing strapped to an aeroplane (most commonly a biplane, as was the case of these jaw-dropping records) whilst it's flying. Sometimes, the plane will also perform acrobatic manoeuvres, such as loop-the-loops and twirling in the sky.
Born originally as a daredevil stunt and growing in popularity during the 1920s, especially in the United States, wing walking was regulated in the 70s and evolved into an aerobatic discipline.
To this day, it is performed by stunt artists across the globe.
Ivor and Betty’s record-breaking stunts have set a new milestone for wing walkers all over the world, proving that there is no age for seeking the thrill of adventure, and their achievements have earned them a coveted spot in the upcoming Guinness World Records 2024.
Ivor (born 10 December 1926) was 95 years and 120 days old when, in April 2022, he was officially recognized and verified as the oldest male wing walker ever.
His achievement surpassed the previous record holder, Thomas Lackey, by two years. In 2013, Thomas was 93 years 100 days when he completed a wing walk between Stranraer, in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, and Derry, in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland.
Ivor’s adventure took place in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, UK, on 9 April 2022, where the brave father-of-four rose above the Rendcomb Aerodrome strapped to the wings of a biplane.
Ivor also has fourteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
His family could witness Ivor’s triumph as he successfully completed his daredevil stunt and smashed the record, conquering the sky with a journey across the Irish Sea that took a total of one hour and 21 minutes.
He faced the challenge fearlessly – but not without worrying about getting a little cold.
Ivor caught the flying bug at an early age and has dedicated his life to experimenting different ways of challenging the wind, from ballooning to flying in micro-light aircrafts. On the occasion of his record-breaking wing walk, he dedicated his challenge to raise funds for Ataxia UK.
The British charity supports patients with ataxia, a condition that groups up several disorders that may affect coordination, balance and speech. There are several kinds of ataxia, and the UK-based charity offers support and information to patients and their families.
Ivor’s enthusiasm for flying dates back to 1932 when, at the age of six, his parents took him to a show held by Cobham's Flying Circus.
Founded by the British aviation pioneer Sir Alan John Cobham, Cobham's Flying Circus achieved nationwide notoriety in the 30s.
It called in numerous awed spectators, showcasing skilled pilots and incredible flying stunts whilst touring the country. Ivor remembers that experience fondly, and his passion for flying only grew over time.
He also dedicated his adult life to flying. The record-breaking great-grandad left school when he was 14 and begun working as a design engineer. During wartime, he also joined the ground crew at Gloucestershire Airport (then known as Staverton Airport).
He recalls his time working at the airport as “the best job in the world”.
The female oldest wing walker record is proudly held by Betty (UK, born March 1929).
She was 93 years and 145 days old when, on 4 August 2022, she soared across the sky and completed an amazing loop-the-loop and barrel rollover.
For her record, accompanied by her family and supported especially by her grandson and daughter-in-law, Betty flew over the same Rendcomb Aerodrome where Ivor broke his record only five months before her attempt.
Unlike Ivor, Betty found a fondness for gliding in the sky later in life.
Proving that is never too late to discover new passions, Betty took on wing-walking and stunts at the impressive age of 87.
She discovered her love of wing walking after seeing a Crunchie chocolate bar advert that featured the stunt. After that, she decided she wanted to try something adventurous.
Betty had never done anything like wing walking before, but she was ready to expand her horizons with the support of her family.
Her daughter-in-law took her to Staverton Airport and, after a successful first flight, Betty soon returned for a second stroll among the winds. This time, however, she asked for something “a bit more interesting”.
She soon successfully incorporated stunts and acrobatics into her wind-walking experience, seeking to further push her boundaries.
As she broke the record, Betty’s jaw-dropping flight included inverted aerobatics.
“If someone told me when I was 80 I would be doing wing walking, I would have told them, ‘What a load of rubbish’,” she confessed during an interview.
Betty also believes in mutual kindness and helping one another.
All five of her wing walking adventures have raised money for charity, and especially for the Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice. The Gloucestershire hospice aims to offer its patients the best care possible, either in the structure or at the patients' own homes.
We salute these amazing seniors and their adventurous deeds, and we can't wait to see if they will break more records among the clouds in the future.
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