Student pilot, 87, takes Yorkshire pub landlady for a spin to cure her fear of flying

He is best known as a fundraiser, going on long distance hikes and raising huge sums for charity.

Louise gives Jeffrey a hug after landing after her trip to try and cure her fear of flying

But ex paratrooper Jeffrey Long, 87, for whom retirement definitely does not mean taking it easy, is also a student pilot.

And today he was trying to cure a friend’s phobia of flying by taking her for a whirl.

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Before leaving Sherburn in Elmet airport in the Piper four-seater, landlady Lousie Johnson, who runs the Old Glen House pub in Baildon said the trip would either “kill or cure her.”

87-year-old former paratrooper Jeffrey Long, who is learning to fly, takes pub landlady Louise Johnson, who is petrified of flying for a spin from Sherburn Aero Club.

After a sleepless night - and only drinking a cup of green tea for fear she would be sick - an hour later, she returned unscathed.

"I loved it once I was up in the air - we went over York Minster - but whenever he did a deep turn I'd start screaming and swearing again," she said.

"I will still be scared - but whether I will be as bad I don't know."

The trip has raised more than £400 towards The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, which provides welfare support to serving and ex-RAF and their families.

Mrs Johnson has only been on two planes before today's flight

It is just the latest of many ventures by Mr Long, who had raised around £300,000, with a series of gruelling challenges over the past decade, which started when he was 75 with a “very tough” walk from London to Lausanne in 39 days.

His derring-do knows no bounds, and he has a schedule that would put someone half his age to shame.

His next challenge will be a blindfold walk for Blind Veterans UK and the charity Guide Dogs, followed up by a 100-mile walk for The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

However he claims no special secret to his fitness, saying he doesn't train or eat a certain diet.

In fact he is is on chemo treatment because his body is producing too many platelets and red cells, and he is still nagged by a back injury from jumping out of a plane, when he was with The Parachute Regiment 12th Yorkshire Battalion, in the 1950s.

"We used to jump with no reserve chutes. Mine came out but didn't develop properly. I came down rather quickly," he says.

"In November last year I did 100 miles at 20 miles a day. One of the joints in my left foot is fused. I did about 20 miles and it went. Every step was agony."

However he adds: "Nothing is impossible. You may not be able to do it today but you can tomorrow."

Mr Long, who was made an MBE for voluntary service to the Royal British Legion in 2009, says he often gets mistaken for someone younger and still has lots of hair which needs a cut every couple of weeks.

"I don’t feel my age. I look at people and think: “jeepers creepers” at the state of them and they are younger than me.”

Mrs Johnson has only been on two planes before, one as a child and most recently to Prague.

Despite taking a tranquilliser, she was so scared that on the way back she was clutching not only her partner’s arm but the man on her other side. It was her suggestion on the spur of the moment to try flying with Mr Long.

“He is an inspiration,” she said. “How he keeps going at his age I don’t know.”

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