ATLANTA -- Clemmie Hatchett has experienced a great many ups and downs in her 91 years, and now a birthday surprise has taken her to new heights.

The mother of television Judge Glenda Hatchett was expecting a low-key 91st birthday. It didn't work out that way.

Her family bought her flying lessons.

"This is a compromise," said grandson Charles Johnson. "She really wanted to go skydiving."

Since she was a teenager, Clemmie Hatchett dreamed of guiding a pair of wings through the clouds.

"I never gave in," said Hatchett. "I never gave up on my dream, and my dream was to become a pilot. At 91, I think I can follow through."

So on her 91st birthday, her family convinced her they were taking her out to lunch. When they made the turn into Dekalb-Peachtree Airport, she knew something was up.

"I actually said years ago, you're too old to be certified to fly," said Judge Hatchett. "I was wrong. I was dead wrong, and I'm excited she's doing it."

No one's surprised.

When Clemmie Hatchett moved to Atlanta in 1949, she jumped right into the civil rights struggle, going toe-to-toe with hatred and discrimination.

Her spirit has taught her children and grandchildren to stretch beyond their reach.

"Anyone she comes in contact with, anybody she embraces, everybody feels the energy," said granddaughter Dream Penn.

The energy was there as she and a flight instructor from Advanced Aviation lifted up over the city. Clemmie Hatchett took control long enough for a couple of laps around Stone Mountain.

"At 91, she taught us again to go out of the box and go to the heavens," said her friend Rev. Gerald Durley.

Dozens of friends and family members were there when her lesson ended. It won't be her last. The 91-year-old has vowed to get her pilot's license.

"It's one of my dreams being realized," said Hatchett. "It means so much to me."

And don't forget about that other dream. She hasn't.

"Don't be surprised if you hear about my skydiving," she said. "I still want to do it."

There's always her next birthday.

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