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Aviator is a person who flies an aircraft. The first recorded use of the term (aviateur in French) was in 1887, as a variation of 'aviation', from the Latin avis (meaning bird), coined in 1863 by G. de la Landelle in Aviation Ou Navigation Aérienne (Aviation or Air Navigation). The term aviatrix (aviatrice in French) is used for a female aviator.

The term is often applied simply to pilots, but is often extended to include aviation navigators, bombardiers, Weapon Systems Officers, and Electronic Warfare Officers. This should not be confused with the term naval aviator, which refers to crew members in the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard.

The term "aviator", as opposed to "pilot" or other terms, was used more in the early days of aviation, before anyone had ever seen an airplane fly, and it had connotations of bravery and adventure. For example, the editors at the Dayton Herald, in an article of December 18, 1903, described the Wright brothers' first airplane as thus: "The weight, including the body of the aviator, is slightly over 700 pounds".

To ensure the safety of people in the air as well as on the ground, it soon became a requirement for an aircraft to be under the operational control of a properly trained, certified and current pilot at all times, who is responsible for the safe and legal completion of the flight. The first certificate was delivered by the Aéro-Club de France to Louis Blériot in 1908, followed by Glenn Curtiss, Léon Delagrange, and Robert Esnault-Pelterie. The absolute authority given to the "pilot in command" is derived from that of a ship's captain.

In recognition of the aviators' qualifications and responsibilities, most militaries and many airlines around the world award aviator badges to their pilots, as well as other air crews.

Project Profile

Great Aviators

Ace Pilots

Great Aviators

List of Aviators in General While all of these people were pilots (and some still are), many are also noted for contributions in areas such as aircraft design and manufacturing, navigation or popularization.
Notable Russian Aviators This list of Russian aviators includes the noteworthy aviators of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation. The majority of pilots listed here served in the Imperial Russian Air Force, the Soviet Air Force or the modern Russian Air Force (or continue to serve in the latter).
The aircrew members listed below either committed notable feats in aviation, held senior positions in Russian military aviation, and/or won national or international awards for their aviation feats.

Celebrity Pilots

Notable people from various professions who are also Pilots:


  • David Ascalon, Contemporary sculptor and stained glass artist and co-founder of Ascalon Studios


  • Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City
  • Richard Branson, Chairman, Virgin Group
  • Jimmy Buffett, American singer, songwriter, author, businessman
  • Gisele Bündchen, Brazilian model
  • George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States
  • George W. Bush, eldest son of George H. W. Bush and 43rd President of the United States


  • Maie Casey, Australian pioneer aviatrix, poet, librettist, biographer, memorist and artist, Wife of Richard Casey, Governor-General of Australia 1969-74
  • Roy Clark, American musician
  • Tom Cruise, American actor


  • Roald Dahl, British novelist, short story writer and screenwriter
  • John Denver, American country music/folk singer-songwriter and folk rock musician
  • Bruce Dickinson, English singer, TV presenter, airline pilot
  • Michael Dorn, American actor
  • Billie Dove, American actress


  • Clint Eastwood, American actor, director
  • Hunter Ellis, American television personality
  • Noel Edmonds, English television presenter and executive
  • Fess Elisha Parker, American actor


  • Craig Ferguson, Scottish-American television host
  • Anthony Fokker, dutch pioneer and manufacturer
  • Harrison Ford, American actor
  • Morgan Freeman, American actor


  • Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of India 1984-1989, son of India's first female Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
  • David Gilmour, English musician, best known as the guitarist, lead singer and a one of the songwriters in the rock band Pink Floyd
  • John Glenn, American astronaut and former Ohio senator
  • Hermann Göring, German politician, military leader and a leading member of the Nazi party
  • Mark-Paul Gosselaar, American actor


  • Howard Hawks, American film director, producer and screen writer of the classic Hollywood era
  • Rudolf Hess, Prominent figure in Nazi Germany
  • Harry Houdini, Hungarian-American magician and escapologist, stunt performer, actor and film producer
  • Dexter Holland, Singer and rhythm guitarist for the Californian punk pop band The Offspring
  • Adam Housley, American journalist, Correspondent for Fox News Channel


  • Angelina Jolie, American actress


  • Greg Kelly, American journalist, youngest son of NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly, Anchor of WNYW (Fox 5 New York), anchor of Good Day New York
  • John F. Kennedy, Jr., son of assassinated U. S. president John F. Kennedy
  • John Kerry, former Massachusetts Lt. Governor
  • Kris Kristofferson, American writer, singer-songwriter, actor and musician


  • Veronica Lake, American actress
  • Rick Leventhal, American journalist, Senior Correspondent for Fox News Channel
  • Cory Lidle, former American baseball player
  • Shane Lundgren, American aviator and commercial aviation businessman and entrepreneur


  • William P. MacCracken, Jr., First Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aeronautics
  • Dean Paul Martin, American singer and actor
  • Soong May-ling, Former first lady of China
  • John McCain, senior United States senator from Arizona, 2008 US presidential candidate
  • Phil McGraw, American television personality, Host of Dr. Phil
  • Paul Moyer, American journalist, Veteran television news broadcaster in Southern California
  • Thurman Munson, former American baseball player


  • Miles O'Brien, American journalist, Former CNN correspondent
  • Vivek Oberoi, Indian actor
  • Susan Oliver, Emmy-nominated American actress, television director and aviator.


  • Rick Perry, Texas governor
  • Brad Pitt, American actor
  • Dave Price, American journalist, reporter and weatherman for CBS's The Early Show


  • Dennis Quaid, American actor.


  • Kangana Ranaut, Indian actress
  • Katherine Rawls, the multiple United States national champions in swimming and diving in the 1930s
  • Christopher Reeve, American actor, director, producer and writer
  • Earl W. Renfroe, History maker in the field of orthodontics and in breaking down the barriers of racism
  • Charles Rolls, British aviation pioneer
  • Michael of Romania, the last King of Romania, and one of the last still living leaders of World War II


  • Chuck Scarborough, American journalist, Veteran television news anchor for WNBC (Channel 4 New York)
  • Jon Scott, American journalist, anchor for Fox News Channel
  • Nevil Shute, Popular British novelist and a successful aeronautical engineer


  • J. R. D. Tata, Indian industrialist
  • Ratan Naval Tata, Indian industrialist
  • Norman Tebbit, British Conservative politician
  • John Travolta, American actor


  • Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Gore Vidal, American novelist, screenwriter, playwright, essayist, short story writer, actor and politician


  • Bonny Warner, American luger
  • Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
  • Ted Williams, left fielder in Major League Baseball