http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=6a ... %2C4028935
Supporters of the rule acknowledge that the choice of 60 is arbitrary. It originated in the 1950's, when three airlines, including American, tried to force their pilots to retire at that age, citing airline safety. After a labor arbitrator ruled against the airlines, C. R. Smith, then American's president, appealed privately to his friend, Elwood Quesada, a former Air Force general who was the F.A.A.'s first administrator.
General Quesada got the rule passed in December 1959, even though an internal memo from the agency's Civil Air Surgeon expressed concern that the agency had no ''scientific or factual justification.'' General Quesada retired a year later and joined the board of American Airlines.''I don't think anybody has ever said that there is anything magical about an age-60 limit,'' said Dr. Jon Jordan, the Federal Air Surgeon. The point, he said, was that the risk of catastrophic illness or mental deterioration rose with age and that 60 was seen as the appropriate place to draw the line.