Why you should be excited

Pilot is a long-lost multi-purpose Virginian apple that was rediscovered in 1989 after decades of being thought extinct.

The story of Pilot

If your life was all about searching out lost heritage apple varieties -- like Tom Burford and Lee Calhoun -- then you'd be pretty excited to find one of them.

Calhoun has maintained a 'ten most wanted' list, containing apples from the U.S. south that are remembered fondly but haven't been seen in the flesh for decades, if not longer.

Keeping in touch with broad networks of fruit lovers, these apple hunters are always looking for word on an old tree someone finds somewhere, overgrown, but apparently still producing the occasional long-lost apple.

What's what happened with Pilot, a good keeper and multi-purpose apple found by Burford in 1989.

Pilot Facts

Its origins

Raised from seed in Nelson County, Virginia, USA, about 1830.

Flavour, aroma, texture

The yellowish flesh is fine-grained, firm, tender, juicy, aromatic and mildly subacid.


A large, roundish apple, its skin is striped and shaded with dull red.

When they’re available

Late season (usually in late October).

Quality for fresh eating


Quality for cooking


Quality for cider

Undoubtedly used a lot in cider back in the day. A fine addition to a heritage cider blend.

Keeping ability

Very good (4 or 5 months when kept refrigerated).