Right Stuff Award: Maury Marler

man and airplane

“The Right Stuff” is a term popularized by author Tom Wolf in his rollicking, uproarious, roller-coaster-ride of a book by the same name:  a book about America’s seven original astronauts.

They were men who had what it took to climb into a massive rocket loaded with explosive fuel and blast off into space. They had the Right Stuff.

In that spirit I will present awards from time to time to people with the Right Stuff. People who take on a challenge and triumph over obstacles. Or who suddenly, unexpectedly find themselves in a challenging situation and rise to the occasion quietly and competently. Those who demonstrate what a single person can accomplish if she or he has the Right Stuff.

And the first Right Stuff Award goes to Maury Marler of Renton, Washington


Maury first earned a pilot certificate in 1941, but he “flew for only a year before giving up flying to serve as a navigator in the Army Air Corps.”

According to Maury, when he moved to a retirement community near the Renton Municipal Airport and heard the small airplanes taking off and landing, “I just got an uncontrollable urge to start flying again.”

Then 90 years old, Maury was turned down by one flight school, but that didn’t stop him. He soon found an encouraging instructor, passed his medical, and began taking lessons.  It’s been over a year now. And Marler said he flies now with a greater appreciation of the experience than when he was young.

“Sure, it was a thrill then, it was a lot of fun then,” he said. But now every time he experiences the thrill of controlling the airplane and flying  above the earth, he thanks his creator for the opportunity. Even if he never qualifies for a pilot certificate, he says, he intends to keep flying with an instructor because he enjoys it so much.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Madeleine Kolb 10/14/2009, 4:47 pm

    Thank you, Geri. There are surely many people with The Right Stuff, and many of them are unsung heros.

  • Geri Langlois 10/11/2009, 9:04 am

    Madeleine, I love this story and how it shows that you can be young at any age. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people who have the right stuff.

    They don’t all make into space but they do belief that all things are possible. They are my heroes and I’m so glad that you are picking them out and telling their stories.

  • Jai Kai - SharingSuccess.tv 10/01/2009, 7:54 pm

    Thank you for the inspiring story. I love reading these kinds of stories on blogs. We are all forever young and as long as we believe we can learn and do the things we want I believe we can achieve them. And I admire older people living their adventures and still having fun.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Madeleine Kolb 10/01/2009, 9:10 am

    Thank you for the comment, Arvind.

    I think that continuing to challenge ouselves is important throughout our lives, but particularly as we become the “old dogs” who are thought to be unable to learn new tricks. Or even to remember the tricks we learned years ago.

  • Arvind Devalia 10/01/2009, 8:46 am

    What a great inspirational story Madeleine!

    Wonder what we will take up at the age of 90?!

    All suggestions welcome…

  • Madeleine Kolb 09/28/2009, 2:17 pm

    @Steven, Thank you for the comment. I like the idea of writing updates as well as recognizing more people with The Right Stuff.

    @Belinda, Thanks to you too. My next award will be to an not-quite-90-year-old woman who took on an amazing challenge.

    I’d really appreciate any suggestions for future Right Stuff awards for women and men of any age, living anywhere in the world.

  • Belinda Munoz 09/28/2009, 1:15 pm

    That’s a very determined fellow and someone whose story we should all learn from.

    I’d love to read about an equally courageous 90 yr. old woman doing something similar…

  • Steven Aitchison 09/28/2009, 12:54 pm

    Great Story Madeleine, be good to hear how he gets on, you’ll need to do a follow up :)

  • Madeleine Kolb 09/28/2009, 12:52 pm

    @Patrick
    Thank you for the comment. I totally agree that the “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” statement is BS. The sad part is that often–as people get older–they believe the BS, so they don’t even try. Or they try but don’t do so well because they don’t really believe they can learn something new. So the BS creates a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    @Justin, Passion is the essential element, and Mr. Marler certainly has that in spades.

    I will give more Right Stuff Awards and would love to get nominations for them.

  • Justin- AlittleBetter.net 09/26/2009, 7:18 am

    I’m sure he’ll make it. He has a passion for doing it whether he’s successful or not. Thats always a good formula.

  • Patrick 09/26/2009, 3:12 am

    Madeleine, what a great story. I really enjoy those stories, that break the thought pattern of “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and “i am to old to learn that”. That is all BS. If you can fuel your desire into anything, than 90+ is not stopping you from achieving it. Yes, you might have to go another route than the 20+ people (maybe your health isn’t that good, etc.), but dreaming it, you will come up with a way.

    Love it. Keep on with these.