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FAMOUS AVIATORS: INSPIRING STORIES OF PIONEERS IN FLIGHT

Can you imagine being the first person to fly above the clouds? Perhaps your dream is to go to outer space and stand on the moon or even go to Mars. Exploration above the ground and in outer space is made possible by pioneers of flight, people who were determined to defy the laws of gravity. Following is a list of famous aviation pioneers whose stories can inspire new dreams. 


THE WRIGHT BROTHERS – THE FATHERS OF MODERN AVIATION 

If you follow aviation at all, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the Wright Brothers. While not the first to attempt to create a machine that can fly, they were the first to complete a controlled airplane flight powered by an engine. This engine was designed by Charles Taylor, an employee of the Wright Brothers shop in Ohio. His engine weighed less than the 200-pound limit required by the brothers and produced 12 horsepower. It was installed in the Flyer, which was the plane to make the 56-second flight. 




AMELIA EARHART – BREAKING GENDER BARRIERS 

Another aviation pioneer, Amelia Earhart gained fame as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She lived during the same period as Charles Lindbergh and did more to attract attention to aviation than anyone other than Charles. Her and Lindbergh founded an airline together that would later become TWA. She was also the pilot who took Eleanor Roosevelt on her first plane ride during her time as first lady. Amelia was the first person to fly over both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans but later disappeared on another flight over the Atlantic. 


CHARLES LINDBERGH – THE LONE EAGLE 

A military officer and aviator, Charles Lindbergh is one of the most famous aviation pioneers for his non-stop solo flight from New York City to Paris. The trip took 33.5 hours and covered 3600 miles aboard the Spirit of St. Louis. While it was his most famous flight, it wasn’t the only one. Lindbergh would go on to fly as a civilian for the military during WWII and enhance the cause of aviation throughout his life. 


HOWARD HUGHES – THE INNOVATIVE AVIATOR 

Though Hughes began his film career at age 18, he also built the Hughes Aircraft Company. This company developed aircraft, including the well-known Spruce Goose. Though it did fly, the aircraft didn’t live up to expectations. His H-1 Racer broke the current speed record in 1938 and was one of the most successful developments from Hughes. 


BESSIE COLEMAN – THE QUEEN OF THE SKIES 

As the first African American and Native American woman to pilot a plane, Bessie Coleman was legendary. She didn’t just fly; she enjoyed doing tricks in the air with her plane. Born to sharecroppers and attending a one-room schoolhouse, she developed an interest in flying after moving to Chicago and hearing stories from military pilots who had returned home from WWI. Bessie had little money but was sponsored by a banker and the Chicago newspaper to study aviation in France since women and black Americans weren’t allowed to attend aviation schools in the United States. She became a barnstormer, a stunt flier, performing in shows across the US and one of the most famous pilots of her time. 


NEIL ARMSTRONG - A STEP FOR MANKIND 

Best known as the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong was also a naval aviator, an engineer, test pilot, and more. He flew more than 200 different models of planes, jets, helicopters, rockets, and gliders. He became the commander for Apollo 11, which was the first manned mission to land a spacecraft on the moon. Neil had already made his first flight into space, becoming the first civilian astronaut to go out in space. His steps on the moon were broadcast live around the US to approximately 530 million people, allowing them to share in his special moment. 


MODERN PIONEERS – CONTINUING THE LEGACY 

Perhaps one of the most famous names of women in the aviation industry, Sally Ride was the first American woman to go to space. She became a science officer in the Space Shuttle Challenger for its flight in 1983. She would later be one of the investigators for the Challenger accident just three years later. She advocated for women to pursue careers in science and engineering, developing the Sally Ride Science company and writing books for children. 


As a more recent aviation pioneer, Felix Baumgartner proves that many aspects of aviation are still unexplored. It was in 2012 that he rose to fame for the highest skydive in history. Aboard the Red Bull Stratos space capsule, he stepped out and jumped on October 14, spinning to the earth at speeds up to Mach 1.25. He hurtled 119,431 feet in just four minutes and 20 seconds, labeling it a supersonic jump. 


Another current aviation pioneer is Sunita Williams. She has had seven spacewalks and spent over 50 hours on spacewalks. During her military career, Sunita trained at the US Naval Test Pilot School and later became an instructor. After her time in the military, she began training as an astronaut candidate at the Johnson Space Center. On one of her spacewalks, she completed a marathon, the first person to do so in space and as part of the 2007 Boston Marathon. 


DEVELOP YOUR OWN LOVE OF AVIATION 

The aviation industry continues to advance through the efforts of other pioneers just like these. Innovation is critical, but so is the courage to take steps beyond what has been accomplished before. Find out about other aviators and what is currently going on in aviation. Share your favorite aviator stories and visit aviation museums to learn about the past. 


While you may not be able to make history now in aviation, you can experience the thrill of being airborne at Flight Adventure Park. You’ll find several fun programs and attractions to make for an exciting afternoon or evening. Check out our FAQs to learn more or see our special offers and take advantage of our indoor trampoline park with friends and family. 

  


 

 

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