Arnold Palmer in cockpit for last time

Updated: February 1, 2011, 12:02 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Arnold Palmer, one of the first athletes to pilot his own plane, has taken his last flight.

Palmer, now 81, flew a Cessna Citation 10 jet from Palm Springs, Calif., to Orlando, Fla., on Monday, marking his last day in the cockpit as a pilot. His license expired on Jan. 31.

"I'll still be flying in my plane as much as always, just not in the cockpit," Palmer told GolfDigest.com last week before his final flight. "Flying has been one of the great things in my life. It's taken me to the far corners of the world. I met thousands of people I otherwise wouldn't have met. And I even got to play a little golf along the way."

Palmer first flew in 1956. He started flying jets in 1966 and began flying to tournaments around the country. He flew a Boeing 747 in 1969 and once flew a Lear jet around the globe in 57 hours, 25 minutes and 42 seconds, a speed record that still stands.

Palmer ends his career as a pilot with 20,000 hours in the cockpit, according to GolfDigest.com.