'Mama Bird' laid to rest

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Evelyn Johnson nicknamed "Mama Bird" was laid to rest in Jefferson Memorial Gardens. She lived to be 102 years old and was honored in true aviator style.

The Rocky Top War Birds from Sevierville flew across the sky before Evelyn's burial.

David O'Shields from the Rocky Top War Birds said, "They came through in a diamond formation which is just a recognition formation. The planes then turned back in a missing man formation which is a way to recognize the person being honored."

A special tribute to a woman who touched so many lives in the community.

Adele McDonald a retired pilot and flight instructor worked with Evelyn and said "I called her the energizer bunny. She was so dedicated and worked 7 days a week to give people the opportunity to learn to fly."

Evelyn flew until she was 92 years old and taught others to fly until she was 95 years old. It was a passion that she wanted to share with others as long as they followed the rules.

"She was strictly by the book, safety first because no one will be impressed with you if you crash the plane." said Adele

She took pride in flying and the fact that other women wanted to follow her lead. She was a strong recruiter for the female pilot society called 'The 99's'.

"Sher would hand a new license to a new pilot in one hand and congratulate them with a little card about flying safe and in the other hand , if it was a female she would give them an application to the 99's." said Adele

Even though she passed away, family and friends say she wouldn't want them to cry over her death; she'd want them to go out there fly.

"Now she's flying completely unfettered. So I'm happy for her." said Adele.


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