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.
Orville Wright was an aviation pioneer who alongside his brother, Wilbur, built and flew the world's first successful motor-operated airplane, the Wright Flyer, a heavier-than-air aircraft. The three-axis control system developed by the brothers remains standard on fixed-wing aircraft of all kinds. Orville also served on the board of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).
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.
Bessie Coleman was an American civil aviator and the first African-American woman to hold a pilot license. Nicknamed Queen Bess, Coleman became a high-profile pilot in the air shows organized in the United States. Bessie Coleman died at the age of 34 in a plane crash. Her efforts to promote aviation inspired the Native American communities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
American aviation pioneer Geraldyn M. Cobb was part of the pathbreaking Mercury 13 program and scripted history as the first female candidate to pass astronaut testing. She had a pilot’s license by 18 and later found new air routes to the Andes and the Amazon rain forests and immersed herself in humanitarian work.
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.
Eugene Bullard was an American military pilot who played an important role during World War I. He was among the few black combat pilots at that time and one of the first African-Americans to become a military pilot in the US, although he flew for France during his career. Eugene Bullard was the recipient of several prestigious honors.
Native American aviator Wiley Post scripted history as the first person to complete a solo flight around the world. Post and actor/humorist Will Rogers were killed when their flight crashed in Alaska in 1935. Post had created many high-altitude records and invented one of the world’s first pressure suits.
A pioneer in women’s aviation, US pilot Jacqueline Cochran was the first female pilot to break the sound barrier. She was also the first woman to lead the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale as its president and the first female Bendix race competitor. She held several other records and also led the organization WASP.
US fighter pilot, engineer, and NASA astronaut Alfred Worden served as the pilot of the command module Endeavour for the 1971 Apollo 15 mission. His spacewalk was at a record distance from Earth. Post-retirement, he worked for private enterprises and wrote several books, including a memoir, a poetry collection, and a children’s book.
US major general and military aviator Claire Lee Chennault is remembered for commanding the US Army Air Forces in China during WWII. He also formed the American Volunteer Group known as the Flying Tigers. He launched the commercial airline Civil Air Transport, which later became known as Air America.
US physician and astronaut Story Musgrave initially worked for the US Marine Corps. Before joining NASA, he gained a host of degrees, in subjects such as literature, math, and chemistry, and an MD from Columbia University. He became the 2nd astronaut to make 6 space flights and later worked for Imagineering and Applied Minds.
The third civilian astronaut to participate in any NASA mission, Walter Cunningham was part of the 1968 Apollo 7 mission. Initially a US Marine Corps fighter pilot, he later studied physics. Post-NASA, he worked for various enterprises and also penned the memoir The All-American Boys.
Pioneering US aviator and female movie stunt pilot Pancho Barnes helped develop the first film stunt pilots’ union. The granddaughter of aeronaut and inventor Thaddeus S. C. Lowe, she launched the guest ranch Happy Bottom Riding Club. Her nickname Pancho helped her disguise herself as a man in Mexico in her initial days.
USAF officer and NASA astronaut Donn F. Eisele piloted the Apollo 7 mission, which was the Apollo program’s first manned flight. Post-retirement, he headed the Peace Corps in Thailand and worked for various firms. He received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal posthumously, in addition to the several honors he gained during his lifetime.