LONDON – His life has spanned parts of three centuries. But extreme age and being confined to a wheelchair didn't prevent Henry Allingham, Britain's oldest living man, from celebrating his 112th birthday in style Friday.
Allingham is also the oldest living Royal Air Force veteran and one of only three British World War I veterans known to be alive.
Wearing a light brown suit and tie, he was honored with festivities that included a Royal Air Force flyby, a parachute jump, a birthday cake and a visit with local schoolchildren in a gala celebration at Royal Air Force College in Lincholnshire.
He was also the guest at a VIP lunch at the college attended by senior naval officers and eight of his grandchildren and great grandchildren who came from the U.S. for the big event.
"I feel on the crest of a wave," he said before the party. "What man wouldn't with all the good souls I have looking after me here. I'm a lucky guy. I am looking forward to a wonderful day and to seeing the family. I just hope I don't let the side down. People ask me how I've done it, and I just say that I look forward to another tomorrow."
During the war, he worked as an air force mechanic and was posted in France, where he helped rescue crashed aircraft. He also served in the navy in 1916 and took part in the Battle of Jutland that year.
After leaving the Armed Forces, Allingham worked as an engineer, eventually rising to a senior position with Ford. He retired in 1960, more than four decades ago, and lives in a care home.
Guinness World Records officials said Allingham was born in London, on June 6, 1896, making him slightly younger than Tomoji Tanabe, the world's oldest living man, born in Japan, on Sept. 18, 1895.