Famous 20th Century Aviators

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 1 
Amelia Earhart
(The First Female Aviator to Fly Solo Across the Atlantic Ocean)
Amelia Earhart
16
Birthdate: July 24, 1897
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Atchison, Kansas, United States
Died: January 5, 1939

Amelia Earhart became the first female pilot to complete a solo trans-Atlantic flight, in 1932. A champion for equal rights, Amelia later wrote best-selling memoirs and contributed to the women pilot’s group The Ninety-Nines. In 1937, Amelia disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean and was later declared dead.

 2 
Charles Lindbergh
(Remembered for Making the First Nonstop Solo Flight Across the Atlantic)
Charles Lindbergh
12
Birthdate: February 4, 1902
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States
Died: August 26, 1974
Charles Lindbergh shot to fame after completing the first solo, and the longest, trans-Atlantic flight, in 1927. In his later years, his son’s highly publicized kidnapping and murder broke him completely. He also participated in World War II and worked on inventions that made flight navigation and heart surgeries easier.
 3 
Alan Shepard
(Astronaut, Aviator, Entrepreneur)
Alan Shepard
12
Birthdate: November 18, 1923
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Derry
Died: July 21, 1998

Alan Shepard was an astronaut and the first American to travel into space. In 1971, Shepard became the fifth and oldest astronaut to walk on the Moon; he was 47 years and 80 days old at that time. From 1963 to 1969, he played an important role as the Chief of the Astronaut Office. His work inspired several TV series.

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 4 
Gordon Cooper
(Officer, Astronaut, Test pilot, Aerospace engineer, Engineer, Aviator)
Gordon Cooper
10
Birthdate: March 6, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Shawnee
Died: October 4, 2004

Part of the seven Project Mercury astronauts, Gordon Cooper manned a 34-hour space mission, becoming the first American to stay for a day in space. As part of the Gemini 5 mission, he and his co-pilot proved it was possible for astronauts to survive a mission to the Moon and back.

 5 
Scott Kelly
(American Engineer, Retired Naval Aviator, and Astronaut)
Scott Kelly
14
Birthdate: February 21, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: City of Orange, New Jersey, United States

Scott Kelly is an American engineer, retired naval aviator, and astronaut. He is credited with commanding the International Space Station on three Expeditions. Scott Kelly is the recipient of several awards and honors, such as the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal.

 6 
Susan Oliver
(American Actress and Aviator)
Susan Oliver
14
Birthdate: February 13, 1932
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: May 10, 1990

Susan Oliver was an American actress, aviator, and television director. She achieved popularity after appearing in popular TV series like Star Trek. Susan Oliver also achieved fame as an aviator; in 1967, she became only the fourth woman to fly a single-engined airplane solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

 7 
Fred Haise
(American Astronaut Who Became the Sixth Person to Walk on the Moon)
Fred Haise
6
Birthdate: November 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Biloxi, Mississippi, United States

Fred Haise is an American retired engineer, NASA astronaut, and test pilot. He also served as a fighter pilot for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps. He was part of Apollo 13 and is one of 24 astronauts to have flown to the Moon. Fred Haise is the recipient of prestigious awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 8 
John Young
(American Astronaut and the Ninth Person to Walk on the Moon)
John Young
8
Birthdate: September 24, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: January 5, 2018

John Young was an American naval officer, astronaut, aeronautical engineer, and test pilot. In 1972, he commanded the Apollo 16 mission and became only the ninth person to walk on the Moon. John Young was the recipient of several awards, including the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal. In 1982, he was made an inductee of the International Space Hall of Fame.

 9 
Neil Armstrong
(The First Person to Walk on the Moon)
Neil Armstrong
10
Birthdate: August 5, 1930
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Wapakoneta, Ohio, United States
Died: August 25, 2012

The first person to walk on the Moon, Neil Armstrong was an astronaut and aeronautical engineer. Prior to his trip to the Moon, he became NASA's first civilian astronaut to fly in space. After resigning from NASA, he taught in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He was a Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee.

 10 
Russell Johnson
(American Actor Best Remembered for His Role in the Sitcom 'Gilligan's Island')
Russell Johnson
12
Birthdate: November 10, 1924
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ashley, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: January 16, 2014

Russell Johnson was an American actor best remembered for his portrayal of Professor Roy Hinkley in the popular sitcom, Gilligan's Island. Prior to his acting career, Russell Johnson enlisted in the US Army Air Forces and played an important role during World War II. He was honored with the Purple Heart, Air Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

 11 
Ronnie Corbett
(Comedian, Author, Writer, Film actor, Stage actor, Cabaret artist, Aviator)
Ronnie Corbett
10
Birthdate: December 4, 1930
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: March 31, 2016
 12 
Pete Conrad
(NASA Astronaut Who Became the Third Person to Walk on the Moon)
Pete Conrad
8
Birthdate: June 2, 1930
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: July 8, 1999

Pete Conrad was an American aeronautical engineer, NASA astronaut, aviator, test pilot, and naval officer. He is credited with commanding the Apollo 12 mission, during which he became only the third person ever to walk on the Moon. Apart from winning awards like the Harmon Trophy, Pete Conrad was also inducted into several Astronaut and Aviation Halls of Fame.

 13 
Erich Hartmann
(Aviator, Officer)
Erich Hartmann
8
Birthdate: April 19, 1922
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Weissach
Died: September 20, 1993

Remembered as the most successful fighter pilot in the history of aerial warfare, Erich Hartmann completed 1,400 missions in his Messerschmitt Bf 109 and shot down 352 Allied planes. Known for his dogfighting strategy, he inspired the popular biography The Blond Knight of Germany and became a flight instructor post-retirement.

 14 
Scott Carpenter
(American Aviator and Astronaut Who was the Second American to Orbit the Earth)
Scott Carpenter
6
Birthdate: May 1, 1925
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Boulder
Died: October 10, 2013

Scott Carpenter was an American aviator, aeronautical engineer, test pilot, naval officer, aquanaut, and astronaut. He achieved popularity in 1959, when he became one of the seven astronauts chosen for NASA's Project Mercury. Scott Carpenter was the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. In 1981, he was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame.

 15 
Eddie Rickenbacker
(American Fighter Pilot Who Played an Important Role in World War I)
Eddie Rickenbacker
5
Birthdate: October 8, 1890
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio, United States
Died: July 23, 1973

Eddie Rickenbacker was an American fighter pilot who played an important role in World War I. With 26 aerial victories under his belt, Rickenbacker was the most decorated and most successful US flying ace of the First World War. A multi-talented personality, Eddie Rickenbacker was also an automotive designer and race car driver.

 16 
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
(American Aviator and Writer Who Became the First Woman to Receive a U.S. Glider Pilot License)
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
5
Birthdate: June 22, 1906
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Englewood, New Jersey
Died: February 7, 2001

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was an American aviator and writer. She is best remembered for her exploratory flights along with her husband and pioneer aviator, Charles Lindbergh. Anne was the first woman to earn a US glider pilot license in 1930. In 1996, Anne Morrow Lindbergh was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 17 
Dieter Dengler
(Second Captured U.S. Airman to Escape Enemy Captivity During the Vietnam War)
Dieter Dengler
5
Birthdate: May 22, 1938
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wildberg, Germany
Died: February 7, 2001

Dieter Dengler was a German-born American aviator who served the US Navy during the Vietnam War. He was caught and tortured by the enemies for over six months, after which Dengler escaped from captivity, becoming only the second U.S. airman to escape captivity during the war. The experience was documented by Dieter Dengler in his book, Escape From Laos.

 18 
Ken Mattingly
(American Astronaut and One of the 24 People to Have Flown to the Moon)
Ken Mattingly
6
Birthdate: March 17, 1936
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago

Ken Mattingly is a retired aviator, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, astronaut, and rear admiral in the US Navy. He was part of Apollo-16 and is one of 24 astronauts to have flown to the Moon. Mattingly is the recipient of numerous awards, including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. In 1983, he was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame.

 19 
Wally Schirra
(American Astronaut Who Became the Fifth American and Ninth Human to Travel Into Space)
Wally Schirra
5
Birthdate: March 12, 1923
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hackensack, New Jersey, United States
Died: May 3, 2007

Wally Schirra was an American NASA astronaut, test pilot, and naval aviator. He achieved popularity in 1959, when he became one of the seven astronauts chosen for Project Mercury. In 1962, he was part of Mercury-Atlas 8 and became only the ninth human to travel into space. Wally Schirra was portrayed by Lance Henriksen in the film, The Right Stuff.

 20 
Frank Borman
(NASA Astronaut Who was the Commander of 'Apollo 8' Mission)
Frank Borman
5
Birthdate: March 14, 1928
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gary

Frank Borman is an American former US Air Force colonel, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, businessman, and NASA astronaut. The commander of Apollo 8, Borman was the first of 24 astronauts to have flown to the Moon. In 1982, Frank Borman was made an inductee of the International Space Hall of Fame.

 21 
Amy Johnson
(Aviator)
Amy Johnson
5
Birthdate: July 1, 1903
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England
Died: January 5, 1941
 22 
Igor Sikorsky
(Aviator)
Igor Sikorsky
5
Birthdate: May 25, 1889
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kiev, Ukraine
Died: October 26, 1972

Igor Sikorsky was a Russian-American aviator known for his pioneering contributions to the development of both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Born in Russia, he immigrated to US as a young man and founded the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in 1923. He is also credited for developing the first of Pan American Airways' ocean-crossing flying boats. 

 23 
Betty Ong
(American Flight Attendant Who was the First Person to Alert Authorities About September 11, 2001 Plane Hijackings)
Betty Ong
7
Birthdate: February 5, 1956
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: September 11, 2001

Betty Ong was an American flight attendant who was declared a hero by the 9/11 Commission after the September 11 attacks. Ong was aboard American Airlines Flight 11, which was hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists on 11 September 2001. Betty Ong notified the ground crew of the hijacking, becoming the first person to alert the authorities.

 24 
J. R. D. Tata
(Indian Industrialist and Chairman of the ‘Tata Group’)
J. R. D. Tata
8
Birthdate: July 29, 1904
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 29, 1993
An aviation pioneer, J. R. D. Tata channeled the Tata Group for over five decades, leading to the expansion of India's largest industrial empire. He was honoured with the Bharat Ratna and the Padma Vibhushan, two of India's highest civillian awards. He was also honored with French Legion of Honour twice. 
 25 
Randy Shughart
(US Delta Force Soldier Remembered for His Service in the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu)
Randy Shughart
7
Birthdate: August 13, 1958
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lincoln
Died: October 3, 1993

US Army Delta Force soldier Randy Shughart is remembered for his heroic contribution to the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993, for which he was posthumously awarded the US Medal of Honor. His story was later related in the book Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War and the 2001 movie Black Hawk Down.

 26 
Edgar Mitchell
(American Astronaut Who was the Sixth Person to Walk on the Moon)
Edgar Mitchell
5
Birthdate: September 17, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hereford
Died: February 4, 2016

Edgar Mitchell was an American aviator, United States Navy officer, test pilot, NASA astronaut, ufologist, and aeronautical engineer. In 1971, Mitchell became only the sixth person ever to walk on the Moon. Over the course of his illustrious career, Edgar Mitchell was honored with several prestigious awards, such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.   

 27 
Steve Fossett
(The First Person to Fly Solo Nonstop Around the World in a Balloon and in a Fixed-Wing Aircraft)
Steve Fossett
5
Birthdate: April 22, 1944
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Jackson, Tennessee, United States
Died: September 3, 2007

Apart from being the first solo balloonist to circumnavigate the world, Steve Fossett also competed the first non-stop solo flight across the world. The adventurer also owned a securities company. His plane went missing on a 2007 mission in western Nevada, and he was declared dead on the discovery of the wreckage.

 28 
Roger B. Chaffee
(American Aviator, Naval Officer, NASA Astronaut, and Aeronautical Engineer)
Roger B. Chaffee
5
Birthdate: February 15, 1935
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Grand Rapids
Died: January 27, 1967

Roger B. Chaffee was an American aviator, naval officer, NASA astronaut, and aeronautical engineer. In 1963, Chaffee was chosen by NASA to be part of Astronaut Group 3, a group of 14 astronauts selected for the Apollo and Gemini program. In 1983, Roger B. Chaffee was made an inductee of the International Space Hall of Fame. 

 29 
Alan Bean
(American Aviator and NASA Astronaut Who was the Fourth Person to Walk on the Moon)
Alan Bean
5
Birthdate: March 15, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Wheeler, Texas, United States
Died: May 26, 2018

Alan Bean was an American aviator, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, NASA astronaut, US naval officer, and painter. He was part of Astronaut Group 3 and was only the fourth person ever to walk on the Moon. Apart from being honored with prestigious awards, Alan Bean was also made an inductee of several Astronaut and Aviation Halls of Fame.

 30 
Ian Khama
(4th President of Botswana)
Ian Khama
6
Birthdate: February 27, 1953
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chertsey, England, United Kingdom
 31 
James Stockdale
(US Navy Vice Admiral & Aviator Who was Prisoner of War for Over Seven Years in the Vietnam War)
James Stockdale
8
Birthdate: December 23, 1923
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Abingdon, Illinois, United States
Died: July 5, 2005

James Stockdale was an American aviator and US Navy vice admiral. He is best remembered for his time spent as a prisoner of war for more than seven years during the Vietnam War. His efforts during the war earned him the Medal of Honor. In 2002, James Stockdale was made an inductee of the National Aviation Hall of Fame. 

 32 
Frank Whittle
(British Pilot and Aviator Best Known for Inventing the 'Turbojet Engine')
Frank Whittle
3
Birthdate: June 1, 1907
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Coventry, England
Died: August 9, 1996

Aviation engineer Frank Whittle entered the Royal Air Force as an apprentice and rose through the ranks to become a pilot. He invented the jet engine, though his idea of a plane that could fly at a phenomenal speed was initially laughed at. He was later knighted for his achievements.

 33 
Guion Bluford
(Former NASA Astronaut Who Became the 1st African-American to Go into Space)
Guion Bluford
7
Birthdate: November 22, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Retired US Air Force officer and NASA astronaut Guion Bluford scripted history as the 2nd African-origin person and the 1st African-American to go into space. A trained fighter pilot, he also flew over 100 combat missions in the Vietnam War. The STS-8 Orbiter Challenger crew member later worked in IT and engineering services.

 34 
Charles Duke
(Former NASA Astronaut Who Became the Youngest Person to Walk on the Moon)
Charles Duke
5
Birthdate: October 3, 1935
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Charlotte

Former NASA astronaut Charles Duke has also been a USAF officer and test pilot. At 36, he became the youngest astronaut to walk on the surface of the Moon. Throughout his illustrious career, he went on 5 Apollo missions. He is also an international public speaker.

 35 
Hanna Reitsch
(Aviator, Test Pilot, and the First German Woman to Win a Captain’s Licence)
Hanna Reitsch
5
Birthdate: March 29, 1912
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Jelenia Góra, Poland
Died: August 24, 1979
It is believed Hanna Reitsch, eager to fly, had almost jumped off her balcony at 4. She was named Stratosphere by her flying-school classmates. A Nazi aviator and test pilot, she was given poisonous capsules by Hitler when the Red Army was taking over Berlin, but didn’t commit suicide.
 36 
Edward O'Hare
(American Naval Aviator Who Became the United States Navy's First Fighter Ace of World War II)
Edward O'Hare
3
Birthdate: March 13, 1914
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: November 26, 1943

Edward O'Hare was an American naval aviator who became the United States Navy's first fighter ace of World War II in 1942, when he single-handedly took on an intimidating formation of nine heavy bombers. Edward O'Hare shot down five enemy bombers, making him the first naval aviator to receive the prestigious Medal of Honor in the Second World War.  

 37 
MJ Hegar
(US Air Force Veteran, Bestselling Author, and Former Democratic Candidate)
MJ Hegar
7
Birthdate: March 16, 1976
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Fairfield, Connecticut, U.S.

US Air Force veteran MJ Hegar has also been a Democratic candidate for the 2020 US Senate election for Texas. Known for her bestselling autobiography Shoot Like a Girl, she was awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor for her fearless military service in Afghanistan, where she was shot at.

 38 
Beryl Markham
(Renowned aviator and author who was the first woman to fly an east-to-west solo route across the Atlantic Ocean)
Beryl Markham
5
Birthdate: October 26, 1902
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rutland, England, United Kingdom
Died: August 3, 1986
 39 
James Irwin
(American Astronaut and the Eighth Person Ever to Walk on the Moon)
James Irwin
3
Birthdate: March 17, 1930
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Pittsburgh
Died: August 8, 1991

James Irwin was an American astronaut, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, and a US Air Force pilot. He was part of the Apollo 15 mission and became only the eighth person ever to walk on the Moon. He was the recipient of several prestigious awards. In 1983, James Irwin was made an inductee of the International Space Hall of Fame.

 40 
Night Witches
(Harassment and tactical bombing)
Night Witches
0
Birthplace: Russia
 41 
Mathias Rust
(Aviator)
Mathias Rust
3
Birthdate: June 1, 1968
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wedel, Germany
 42 
George Stephen Morrison
(US Navy Rear Admiral Who Commanded the American Forces in the Gulf of Tonkin Incident)
George Stephen Morrison
7
Birthdate: January 7, 1919
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rome, Georgia, United States
Died: November 17, 2008

US Navy rear admiral and aviator George Stephen Morrison commanded the US forces during the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which eventually began the Vietnam War. He had also been part of the Battle of Pearl Harbor in WWII. He is also remembered as the father of The Doors lead vocalist Jim Morrison.

 43 
Hans-Joachim Marseille
(German Luftwaffe Fighter Pilot and Flying Ace During World War Ii)
Hans-Joachim Marseille
3
Birthdate: December 13, 1919
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: September 30, 1942

Remembered for his aerial battles during the North African Campaign, Hans-Joachim Marseille was a German Luftwaffe fighter pilot and a flying ace, who claimed a total of 158 victories, out of which 151 victories were against the British Commonwealth's Desert Air Force. Nicknamed Star of Africa, he is also credited with shooting down seventeen Allied fighters in a single day.

 44 
Jean Batten
(Aviator Who Made Record Breaking Trans-world Flights)
Jean Batten
3
Birthdate: September 15, 1909
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rotorua, New Zealand
Died: November 22, 1982

Born to a dentist father in New Zealand, Jean Batten was initially sent to England to study music. However, she earned a pilot’s license instead and made many aviation records, which included completing the first solo flight from England to New Zealand. In her final years, she became a recluse.

 45 
Herbert Nitsch
(Austrian Freediver Who Holds the World Record of Deepest Dive at 253.2 meters)
Herbert Nitsch
3
Birthdate: April 20, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Austria

Widely known as the deepest man on Earth, Austrian freediver Herbert Nitsch currently holds the world freediving world record for his exceptional dive of 214 m. He has previously also worked as a pilot. He is also the only diver to hold records in all of AIDA's 8 freediving disciplines.

 46 
Burt Rutan
(American Aerospace Engineer Who Designed the Record-Breaking Plane 'Voyager')
Burt Rutan
3
Birthdate: June 17, 1943
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Estacada

Burt Rutan is an American former entrepreneur and aerospace engineer. He is best known for his ability to make strong, light, energy-efficient, and unusual-looking air and space craft. Burt Rutan is credited with designing historically significant aircrafts like the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, which set the world record for the longest and fastest nonstop circumnavigation flight in history.   

 47 
Gail Halvorsen
(US Airforce Pilot Who Dropped Candies for Children during the Berlin Airlift)
Gail Halvorsen
3
Birthdate: October 10, 1920
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Salt Lake City

Known as the Berlin Candy Bomber, Gail Halvorsen was a US Air Force officer and command pilot. He developed the idea of dropping candies, chocolate, and other treats for West German children, using parachutes, during the Berlin Airlift, in retaliation to the Soviet’s Berlin Blockade. He later received the Congressional Gold Medal.

 48 
Bruce McCandless II
(The First Person to Complete an Untethered Spacewalk)
Bruce McCandless II
3
Birthdate: June 8, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: December 21, 2017

US Navy officer, aviator, and NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless II was the first person to complete an untethered spacewalk. He also contributed to the development of the Manned Maneuvering Unit. Post-retirement, he became a research scientist. He once sued singer Dido for using one of his space flight photos as an album cover.

 49 
William C. McCool
(NASA Astronaut and the Pilot of the Ill-Fated Space Shuttle Columbia Mission)
William C. McCool
3
Birthdate: September 23, 1961
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: San Diego
Died: February 1, 2003

American naval officer, aviator, and aeronautical engineer William C. McCool was a prominent NASA astronaut who served the STS-107 Space Shuttle Columbia mission as its pilot. He, along with the rest of crew, died when Columbia disintegrated while re-entering the atmosphere. He won many posthumous honors, such as the NASA Space Flight Medal.

 50 
Joseph Kittinger
(Retired US Air Force Officer and Command Pilot Who Made Many High-Altitude Balloon Records)
Joseph Kittinger
3
Birthdate: July 27, 1928
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Tampa, Florida, United States

Former US Air Force pilot Joseph Kittinger made many high-altitude balloon records and scripted history as the first person to complete a solo balloon flight across the Atlantic Ocean. He served as a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War and had been part of the US high-altitude military projects Project Manhigh and Project Excelsior.