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OpinionColumnistsChristopher Leelum

The old man and . . . the beach

Robert Fritts, 88, of Manorville, shown in a

Robert Fritts, 88, of Manorville, shown in a family photo, was bruised when his vintage biplane flipped while landing Saturday, July 25, 2015, at Klenawicus Airfield on Shelter Island. He said by phone from Stony Brook University Hospital that he expected to be released Sunday and could be flying again by the middle of next week. Photo Credit: Fritt family

An 88-year-old man was landing his vintage biplane on Shelter Island on Saturday when he accidentally over-applied his brakes, causing the plane to flip and skid on the runway. After undoing his harness and dropping to the ground, he got up to examine the wreckage and the bruises.

He would later brush it off by saying, "That kind of airplane is very tricky on the ground."

What did I do last weekend? Well, the Montauk water was too cold for my frail 20-year-old frame so I just napped on the beach.

Robert Fritts, a World War II vet from Manorville, is 68 years my senior and he's flying vintage planes for fun while I cower thousands of feet below him. Fritts can be used as personal motivation. An "old man" is beating me at life, so I better do something. But he's also the epitome of a stereotype-breaker, and an inspiration -- especially for a millennial generation that is flooded with negative stereotypes.

In today's world, ageism is a default. Production is quicker. We expect annual upgrades to old versions, from phones to movies. Our majority population is younger, with the millennial generation taking over from the long-reigning baby boomers, bringing with it progressive ideas regarding drugs, relationships and employment. Finally, from the cosmetics commercials to the male enhancement advertisements, we are told old means obsolete. Today's culture is rooted in what is new.

I don't mean to point a finger at my fellow youth, but I would implore them to have hope in that which is elderly, because Fritts flies among us.

For the millennials who truly fulfill the Netflix-bingeing, tech-obsessive stereotype, look at Fritts. After that next episode of "Orange is the New Black," put down the device and do something daring. For the millennials who dread Father Time as they squeeze every last drop out of their 20s, look at Fritts.

There is no age maximum for pursuing your passions.

Christopher Leelum, a student at Stony Brook University, is an intern with Newsday and amNewYork.