Pilots

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The job of a pilot is considered to be one of the most lucrative and glamorous ones in the aviation industry. Ask any little kid what they want to be when they grow up, and pat comes the reply, “pilot!” But despite the glamour quotient attached with the profession, it goes without saying that being a pilot comes with tremendous responsibility. The Wright brothers are widely regarded as the first pilots in the modern sense of the word though many before them had attempted to fly, often with disastrous results. Coming to more recent times, James H. Doolittle, Noel Wien, and Charles A. Lindbergh are counted amongst the best pilots of the early years of the 20 century. While initially flying was considered exclusively a man’s field, French woman Raymonde de Laroche broke all traditions to become the first woman in the world to receive an aeroplane pilot's licence. Not long after, American aviator Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel. Despite dying young, she played a major role in encouraging women to take up aviation. Intrigued to know more about pilots? Check out this section to know about some of most famous pilots of the world.
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 1 
Howard Hughes
(Film Producer and an Important Figure in the Aviation Industry Who Became Known for His Ecentric Behavior)
Howard Hughes
6
Birthdate: December 24, 1905
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Humble, Texas, United States
Died: April 5, 1976

A multi-talented personality, Howard Hughes was one of the richest person of his time. A business tycoon, he made big investments in films and aviation industry. Passionate about flying, he set numerous flying records, and also risked his own life in process. Howard Hughes who inherited his family business and became millionaire at the age of 18, was later on troubled with mental illness and turned recluse.

 2 
Amelia Earhart
(The First Female Aviator to Fly Solo Across the Atlantic Ocean)
Amelia Earhart
12
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.

 3 
Buzz Aldrin
(American Astronaut, Fighter Pilot and the Second Person to Set Foot on the Moon)
Buzz Aldrin
4
Birthdate: January 20, 1930
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Glen Ridge, New Jersey, United States
Buzz Aldrin became the second person to set foot on the Moon, as the pilot of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, 19 minutes after Neil Armstrong stepped on the Moon, on July 21, 1969. Aldrin has also been a U.S. Air Force officer and flew fighter jets in the Korean War.
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 4 
Charles Lindbergh
(Remembered for Making the First Nonstop Solo Flight Across the Atlantic)
Charles Lindbergh
4
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.
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 5 
Manfred von Richthofen
(One of the Most Widely Known German Fighter Pilots of All Time)
Manfred von Richthofen
6
Birthdate: May 2, 1892
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: April 21, 1918
Manfred von Richthofen, also known as Baron von Richthofen and the "Red Baron,” was a German Air Force fighter pilot who won more than 80 World War I battles. He was part of the fighter wing unit Jagdgeschwader 1, which was also known as "The Flying Circus" or "Richthofen's Circus.”
 6 
Francis Gary Powers
(American Military Officer)
Francis Gary Powers
4
Birthdate: August 17, 1929
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Jenkins, Kentucky, United States
Died: August 1, 1977

Francis Gary Powers was an American pilot. His Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) U-2 spy plane was shot down in what came to be known as the 1960 U-2 incident. He was performing photographic aerial reconnaissance deep inside Soviet territory when the incident occurred. He survived and later worked as a helicopter pilot for KNBC in Los Angeles.

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 7 
Valentina Tereshkova
(The First and Youngest Woman in Space)
Valentina Tereshkova
4
Birthdate: March 6, 1937
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bol'shoe Maslennikovo, Russia
Former cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova is currently part of the Russian State Duma. In 1963, she became the first woman to fly into space when she went on a solo mission aboard the Vostok 6. She has won many honors, such as the Hero of the Soviet Union.
 8 
Joseph P. Kennedy Jr.
(United States Naval Aviator and Eldest Son of Joseph P. Kennedy SR and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy)
Joseph P. Kennedy Jr.
4
Birthdate: July 25, 1915
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hull, Massachusetts, United States
Died: August 12, 1944

Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. was a US Navy lieutenant. The eldest of the famous Kennedy siblings, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. was groomed by his father from a very young age to become the president of the United States. After his death during World War II at age 29, John F. Kennedy took it upon himself to materialize his father's dreams.

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 9 
William Conrad
(Actor, Producer, and Director Who Worked in Radio, Film, and Television for Over Fifty Years)
William Conrad
4
Birthdate: September 27, 1920
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Died: February 11, 1994

William Conrad was an American actor and filmmaker whose entertainment career in radio, television, and film spanned five decades. He achieved popularity after starring as Frank Cannon in the popular detective television series, Cannon. In 1997, William Conrad was posthumously inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame and the National Radio Hall of Fame.

 10 
Paul Tibbets
4
Birthdate: February 23, 1915
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Quincy, Illinois, United States
Died: November 1, 2007
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 11 
Douglas Bader
(Royal Air Force Flying Ace During the Second World War)
Douglas Bader
4
Birthdate: February 21, 1910
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England, United Kingdom
Died: September 5, 1982

Sir Douglas Bader was a RAF pilot during World War II. Although he lost both his legs in an aerobatics accident in 1931, he recovered and rejoined the RAF. Following the war, he joined the oil industry. The film and book Reach for the Sky details his life.

 12 
Tom Harmon
(American Football Players)
Tom Harmon
6
Birthdate: September 28, 1919
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rensselaer, Indiana, USA
Died: March 15, 1990
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 13 
Pappy Boyington
4
Birthdate: December 4, 1912
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Died: January 11, 1988
 14 
Chesley Sullenberger
3
Birthdate: January 23, 1951
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Denison, Texas, United States
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 15 
Jock Mahoney
4
Birthdate: February 7, 1919
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died: December 14, 1989
 16 
Billy Mitchell
(Military General)
Billy Mitchell
4
Birthdate: December 29, 1879
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nice, France
Died: February 19, 1936
 17 
Amy Johnson
(Aviator)
Amy Johnson
3
Birthdate: July 1, 1903
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England
Died: January 5, 1941
 18 
Robert Taylor
(Actor, Pilot)
Robert Taylor
0
Birthdate: August 5, 1911
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Filley, Nebraska, United States
Died: June 8, 1969
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 19 
Dan Rowan
(Comedians)
Dan Rowan
3
Birthdate: July 22, 1922
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Beggs, Oklahoma, USA
Died: September 22, 1987
 20 
Elliott Roosevelt
3
Birthdate: September 23, 1910
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: October 27, 1990
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 21 
Steve Fossett
(The First Person to Fly Solo Nonstop Around the World in a Balloon and in a Fixed-Wing Aircraft)
Steve Fossett
3
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.

 22 
Ilan Ramon
(Fighter pilot)
Ilan Ramon
3
Birthdate: June 20, 1954
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ramat Gan, Israel
Died: February 1, 2003
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 23 
Hanna Reitsch
(Aviator, Test Pilot, and the First German Woman to Win a Captain’s Licence)
Hanna Reitsch
3
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.
 24 
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
3
Birthdate: October 26, 1902
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rutland, England, United Kingdom
Died: August 3, 1986
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 25 
Jake Pavelka
(Television personality)
Jake Pavelka
3
Birthdate: January 27, 1978
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States
 26 
Roland Garros
(aviator, rugby union player)
Roland Garros
3
Birthdate: October 6, 1888
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint-Denis
Died: October 5, 1918
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 27 
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.  

 28 
Rick Husband
(Astronaut)
Rick Husband
3
Birthdate: July 12, 1957
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Amarillo, Texas, United States
Died: February 1, 2003
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 29 
Mathias Rust
(Aviator)
Mathias Rust
3
Birthdate: June 1, 1968
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wedel, Germany
 30 
Richard Bong
(Aircraft pilot, Military personnel)
Richard Bong
0
Birthdate: September 24, 1920
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Superior, Wisconsin, United States
Died: August 6, 1945
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 31 
Sultan bin Salman Al Saud
(Saudi Prince and Former Royal Saudi Air Force Pilot)
Sultan bin Salman Al Saud
3
Birthdate: June 27, 1956
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Sultan bin Salman Al Saud is a Saudi prince best known for his service as a fighter pilot in the Royal Saudi Air Force. A payload specialist, Sultan flew aboard one of NASA's Space Shuttle missions. The first Arab and the first Muslim in space, Sultan has been honored with many prestigious awards, including the NASA Space Flight Medal. 

 32 
Reza Pahlavi, Crown Prince of Iran
(Founder and leader of the self-styled National Council of Iran)
Reza Pahlavi, Crown Prince of Iran
0
Birthdate: October 31, 1960
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran

Reza Pahlavi is the oldest son of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, and his wife Farah Diba. He was the crown prince before the Iranian Revolution overthrew the Pahlavi dynasty in 1979. He is the founder of the self-styled National Council of Iran and a prominent critic of Iran's Islamic Republic government. 

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 33 
Fred Trump Jr.
(Aircraft pilot)
Fred Trump Jr.
0
Birthdate: October 14, 1938
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Queens, New York, United States
Died: September 26, 1981
 34 
Jacqueline Cochran
(The First Female Pilot Who Broke the Sound Barrier)
Jacqueline Cochran
3
Birthdate: May 11, 1906
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Muscogee, Cantonment, Florida, United States
Died: August 9, 1980

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.

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 35 
Charles Sweeney
3
Birthdate: December 27, 1919
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lowell, Massachusetts, United States
Died: July 16, 2004
 36 
Eugene Bullard
(American Military Pilot Who Played an Important Role During World War I)
Eugene Bullard
3
Birthdate: October 9, 1895
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Columbus, Georgia, United States
Died: October 12, 1961

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.

 37 
Don Herbert
(Television Host)
Don Herbert
3
Birthdate: July 10, 1917
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Waconia, Minnesota, U.S.
Died: June 12, 2007
 38 
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
3
Birthdate: November 6, 1940
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ostrava, Czech Republic
 39 
Geraldyn M Cobb
(American Aviation Pioneer Who Was the First Woman to Pass Astronaut Testing)
Geraldyn M Cobb
3
Birthdate: March 5, 1931
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Norman, USA
Died: March 18, 2019

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.

 40 
Lydia Litvyak
(Fighter pilot)
Lydia Litvyak
3
Birthdate: August 18, 1921
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: August 1, 1943
 41 
Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen
(German World War I Flying Ace Who Rose to the Rank of 'Generalfeldmarschall' in the Luftwaffe During World War II)
Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen
3
Birthdate: October 10, 1895
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bartoszówek, Poland
Died: July 12, 1945

Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen was a German army officer. A flying ace in World War I, Richthofen was promoted to the rank of Generalfeldmarschall while serving in Luftwaffe, Wehrmacht's aerial warfare branch, during World War II. Widely regarded as a visionary in aerial warfare, Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen was honored with several prestigious awards, such as the Eastern Front Medal.

 42 
Gabby Gabreski
3
Birthdate: January 28, 1919
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Oil City, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: January 31, 2002
 43 
Ernst Udet
(Pilot)
Ernst Udet
3
Birthdate: April 26, 1896
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: November 17, 1941
 44 
William Stephenson
(Canadian Fighter Pilot, Soldier, Spymaster, and Businessman)
William Stephenson
3
Birthdate: January 23, 1897
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: North Point Douglas, Winnipeg, Canada
Died: January 31, 1989
 45 
Louis Blériot
(Aviator, Engineer, Inventor, Aerospace engineer)
Louis Blériot
3
Birthdate: July 1, 1872
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cambrai
Died: August 2, 1936

Louis Blériot was a French aviator, engineer, and inventor. He is credited with developing the first workable headlamp for cars. He is also credited with making the first working, piloted monoplane. Blériot achieved worldwide fame in 1909 when he became the first person to fly across the English Channel. Louis Blériot also founded the successful aircraft manufacturing company, Blériot Aéronautique.

 46 
Johnnie Johnson
3
Birthdate: March 9, 1915
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire, England
Died: January 30, 2001
 47 
Rahul Mahajan
(Entertainer)
Rahul Mahajan
3
Birthdate: July 25, 1975
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: India
 48 
Mukul Dev
(Actor)
Mukul Dev
3
Birthdate: November 30, 1970
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Delhi, India
 49 
Nadiya Savchenko
(Politician, pilot)
Nadiya Savchenko
3
Birthdate: May 11, 1981
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kyiv, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union (now Ukraine)
 50 
Biju Patnaik
(Politician)
Biju Patnaik
3
Birthdate: March 5, 1916
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Asika Aska, Bihar, India
Died: April 17, 1997

One of Orissa’s political icons, Biju Patnaik had led the Indian state as its chief minister for two terms. Often regarded as the Hero of Kalinga, he had a major role in shaping the post-independence infrastructure of Orissa and was also part of India’s freedom struggle. He was also a skilled pilot.