Aviation Heroes

Profile picture for user Will J

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15 years 8 months

Posts: 731

Just wondering if you could help a friend of mine with some inspiration for an interesting upcoming project... Who, in your opinion, are the the most significant aviation personalities alive today, either famous pilots, designers, adventurers, record breakers, engineers, test pilots, inventors, sporting pilots, amateurs, basically anybody who in their own way has pushed the boundaries of flight... it could be somebody breaking new ground at NASA or somebody building exciting and unusual in a shed, team players or radical individualists... ...over to you, answers can be as random or predictable as you see fit, I am not too specific on the subject of the project as it might influence the responses! Thanks in advance for any ideas, Will :)
Original post
Profile picture for user Mark V

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16 years 4 months

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Do you mean someone who is working/flying today or do they just have to be alive today (with their achievements made in the past)?

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15 years 9 months

Posts: 237

In reply to your question you may consider Mr John Farley (the Test Pilot for the Harrier or Capt?? Eric (Winkle) Brown also a test pilot in 1940s/1950s.
Profile picture for user dhfan

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19 years 9 months

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Alex Henshaw, but Winkle Brown's a good one too.
Profile picture for user Melvyn Hiscock

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15 years 10 months

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When Peeelot magazine published their 100 greatest pilots thing for the 1903 anniversary they missed out Alex Henshaw. Great pilot, test pilot, record breaker, great pilot, pioneer and, according to Major Day, a superb pilot.
Profile picture for user macky42

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19 years 9 months

Posts: 387

Burt Rutan, stands shoulder to shoulder with any aviation pioneer you care to name.
Profile picture for user Will J

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15 years 8 months

Posts: 731

Do you mean someone who is working/flying today or do they just have to be alive today (with their achievements made in the past)?
Either would do nicely :)
Profile picture for user JDK

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16 years

Posts: 8,195

Personal choice would be Eric Brown, and in terms of variety of flying hard to beat. Alex Henshaw, for instance is also an amazing achiever, with a world record held for 60 years, but Eric's list of things done (including a front line tour as a Martlet pilot on a MAC Carrier) puts him ahead for me - but it's not a competition! Second would probably be Ken Wallis. With the Bond and Kev35 connections, how could you say no? John Farley seems to be a chap happy to contribute, over on PPrune. Of course there's Neville Duke, but he's a poor second to Melvis. :D If you want Spitfires, today, top warbird flying, there's Major Day and Ray Hanna. Finding out what makes Me S Grey tick would be a coup. No magazine's done that IMHO. Be aware that some 'great' aviation personalities are very aware of their own 'greatness' and need every second sentence to be an ego boost. I don't think any of the above suffer from this, but check out your shortlist before aproaching the choice. I've kept it to UK personalities for no very good reason.

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14 years 4 months

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I would pick Jerry Billing, RAF, RCAF, 2 tours in WWII , 250 sorties, 52.5 years flying Spitfires ( MK923, SL721, TE308, NH188 )
Profile picture for user Will J

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15 years 8 months

Posts: 731

Good stuff guys, interestingly most of the names were ones already on the list this end... any more slightly more obscure (probably the wrong word, but you'll get what I mean)or less well known characters would be welcome, including those 'behind the scenes'. Cheers for letting me 'pick your brains' ;)

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15 years 11 months

Posts: 497

Paul Bonhomme, a superb airshow pilot and Sukhoi maestro. Handsome too......sod it..! Cheers, Trapper 69
Profile picture for user Will J

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15 years 8 months

Posts: 731

Skybolt, an interesting suggestion, for a particular reason very apt to the project. Cheers :) ~The plot thickens~
Profile picture for user Will J

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15 years 8 months

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*Blatant bump* Any more ideas gratefully recieved!
Profile picture for user minter

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15 years 2 months

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george unwin spitfire ace, one of the first to fly the spit with 19 sqdn,flew as part of baders big wing finished up with 15 kills during the BoB,and probably more if they wernt held back for so long

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15 years 11 months

Posts: 497

Brendan O'Brien for being quite the most innovative UK airshow pilot of the last 25 years. Also he is perhaps the finest airshow commentator with a style similar to a Tennessee tobacco auctioneer who can make the mundane seem magical and reduce airshow professionals to tears of mirth. Lastly, as he was so fond of saying in that memorable airshow TV series, he is a PILOT.......!!! Cheers, Trapper 69 PS - I would also nominate Vic Norman whose entrepreneurial skill in attracting and maintaining sponsors has ensured the success and quality of his Aerosuperbatics airshow company. This for a quarter of a century in a sphere where no prisoners are taken. PPS - Finally, Rod Dean as being a display pilot of supreme competance in a huge variety of both piston and jet warbirds. In addition his contribution to the safety regulation of airshows in the UK has been enormous both within the CAA and outside it.
Profile picture for user SteveYoung

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19 years 9 months

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Jimmy Stewart - one of the few men still with us today who has experience of flying the Typhoon, and of being shot off the front of a merchant ship to shoot down a Condor, in the full knowledge that he had nowhere to land... Some other contenders not yet mentioned - Steve Fossett for his many record attempts in various things, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (I'm sure you don't need me to tell you why), Chuck Yeager, Polly Vacher. Ground bound (and these chaps are mainly in the preservation scene) - Kermit Weeks / Stephen Grey / Paul Allen for all being in the position where they can influence the warbird industry; Tim Moore and Tony Ditheridge for the wonderful stuff they and their respective bunches of chaps do with wood; Fred and Harold Panton for the miracle they have worked with NX611.