What makes a great pilot? Is it because of how you manage to fly your plane, or is it because how you manage to stop crashing your plane and keep your passengers safe? Some other pilots are famous because of those reasons; however, not all pilots are famous for that. Some are simply famous because they helped shape aviation in the world.
Take a look at some of the greatest aviators in history for whatever reasons they may have. Because aviation is never the same, thanks to them.
Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier/the Montgolfier Brothers (1754 – 1785)
The story of man’s relationship with flight may have started way earlier than many realize. There are names like Abbas Ibn Firnas, a glider flier who dared to touch the sky from a tower in Cordoba or Eilmer of Malmesbury, also a glider flier. However, according to history, it’s actually Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier, flying a balloon designed by the Montgolfier brothers.
Baron Manfred Von Richthofen (1892 – 1918)
The famous Red Baron flew into history as one of World War I’s top aces. He has 80 kills to his name. It wasn’t his flying that got him the nod, as he was fairly average and didn’t escape being shot at. It was his locked-on shooting that enemy pilots feared him for.
Chuck Yeager (1923 – present)
In 1947, just two years after World War II, Chuck Yeager made headlines by breaking the speed of sound. To be fair, that jet flight wasn’t the first one; the Germans perfected that technology during the way. However, Yeager took many risks and today’s world would not be the same if not for his supersonic-breaking daring flight.
James H. Doolittle (1896 – 1993)
James Doolittle has had a love affair with the air all his life. However, he found fame for his daring missions; he was portrayed by Alec Baldwin in the movie ‘Pearl Harbor.’ Doolittle is famous for leading a squadron of North American B-25 bombers off a carrier and bombing Tokyo, then bailing out over occupied Chinese territory.
Charles Lindbergh (1902 – 1974)
This pilot got his start in the unlikeliest of places—the circus. He was a barnstormer, a parachutist, and a windwalker before he stepped into the cockpit of history. His pre and post-Atlantic flights paved the way for commercial airline routes. We may never have had the chance to fly as we do now without him trying it out the first time.
These men were once like you and me—normal and trying to eke out a meager existence. They took the risks, grabbed opportunities to become the aviators they are today. Becoming a great person is just a matter of choice.