Celebrity Pilots

In the heart of Los Angeles, are a multitude of Hollywood's celebrities whom had graced the silver screen. But hidden amongst them are a select few who share a secret passion for aviation. These celebrities weren't content with just the red carpets and cameras; they yearned to slip the surly bonds...

Kurt Russel

Flying ran in his family's blood...Russell’s grandfather was a senior check captain for TWA, and test pilot for Howard Hughes. Russell himself started flying in 1988, earning himself a Private Single Engine Land, Multi, and IFR. Kurt has also owned and operated a Rockwell Commander, Cessna Crusader, Cessna 414, Cessna Conquest, a Piaggio Avanti 180, and last but certainly not least, his beloved Starduster biplane. 

John Travolta
John, an avid aviation enthusiast who has been flying since his "Welcome Back Kotter" days when he purchased his first aircraft...a single engine Eurocoup. Travolta has since earned his Commercial, Multi Engine, Instrument, and has owned and operated a multitude of aircraft including Lear 24, 25 and 35, Dassault Falcon 900, Boeing 727, Boeing 707-120(SIC), Challenger 601, Cessna Citation P/CE-500, British Aerospace 125 , a G-2 Vision Jet, and a SIC 747 rating from Qantas, as well as serving as an ambassador for the Australian Qantas Airlines.
Jimmy Buffett
Jimmy's love for aviation was no secret.  A lifelong aviation geek, Commercial, Multi, IFR, Land and Seaplane pilot, well known for his beautiful Grumman HU-16 Albatross known as the Hemisphere Dancer, as well as a PC-12, Cessna Citation Encore 500, and a Diamond DA-50. 
Clint Eastwood
The man better known as the pilot that stole Firefox, Clint is also a seasoned Private Helicopter Pilot.  Much less known, Clint is also a survivor of a night ditching in a Navy AD-1 Skyraider off the coast of California. Sept 30th 1951, then 21 year old US Army Pvt. Eastwood had hitched a ride from Naval Air Station Seattle for Mather Field. 
Morgan Freeman
Honourably discharged from the United States Air Force as an airman first class in 1959, Morgan is a Private Pilot, Multi Engine, Instrument Rated Pilot.  Type rated on the Cessna CE-500. One would imagine this guy has some smooth sounding radio transmissions.  
Harrison Ford
Having logged thousands of hours as Pilot in Command, Old Indiana Jones carries a Private Pilot Single Engine Land he had first earned at the age of 53.  Harrison then earned his seaplane rating, Multi, IFR, and a Helicopter Pilot licence as well.  Type Ratings include the Cessna CE-525, and 680, owner of a classic Ryan PT-22,  a beautiful Havilland DHC-2 Beaver. along with a Bell 407 helicopter which he has actually used on multiple occasions to rescue lost and stranded mountain hikers near his home in Grand Teton. 
Leonard Nimoy
Well known as First Officer of the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701A United Federation of Planets, Spock also happened to possess a fixed wing Private Pilots Licence with an instrument rating. Leonard also owned and operated a much loved Piper Cherokee.
Patrick Swayze 
Private Pilot, Multi Engine with an Instrument Rating.  Mr Swayze was also the owner and operator of a Cessna 414 which he used to travel along with his dogs.  
Michael Dorn 
Best known as Starfleet Officer Lieutenant Worf of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701D, Michael also happens to posses a Private Pilot licence, Multi Engine, and instrument ratings. Michael has also owned and operated a T-33 Shooting Star, a stunning Canadian F-86C Sabre, and is type rated on the North American Sabreliner 265 business jet.
Kris Kristofferson
Kristofferson's father, was an Air Force pilot, whom strongly urged his son to join the military.  After joining the US Army, Kristofferson received training at Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he became a US Army helicopter pilot, also successfully completing Ranger School. After leaving the Army in 65, Kristofferson worked as a commercial helicopter pilot running supplies to and from oil rigs off shore.
Dennis Quaid
Good old "Hot Dog" from the movie "The Right Stuff, also holds a Private Pilot Single Engine Land, Multi Engine, and an Instrument Rating.  Dennis also holds a type rating on the Cessna Citation 500
Jimmy Stewart
March 22, 1941, Jimmy Stewart was drafted into the U.S. Armed Forces. He was assigned to the Army Air Corps as an enlisted man and stationed at Moffett Field, Calif. where he received his pilot wings and became a United States Army AirForce aviator.  During his time as an air force flight instructor, Jimmy instructed in AT-6, AT-9 and B-17 aircraft.  In 1943, Stewart became Commanding Officer of the 703d Bomb Squadron in England, equipped with B-24s.
Throughout his service overseas, the US Army Air Corps' top brass had tried to keep the movie star from missions over enemy territory. But Stewart would hear nothing of it.
Stewart commenced flying combat missions in 1944, and was appointed Operations Officer of the 453rd Bomb Group and, subsequently, Chief of Staff of the 2nd Combat wing, 2nd Air Division of the 8th Air Force.
Stewart had completed 20 combat missions by wars end.  Upon his return stateside, was suffering from PTSD which greatly affected his acting during the first film he starred in after his military service...."It's a Wonderful Life". The nervous disposition of his character in that film was not acting.
Jimmy Stewart remained in the USAF Reserve, and was promoted to brigadier general on July 23rd, 1959.
Tom Cruise
It is common to find pilots who were inspired by the 80s movie "Top Gun", and good old Maverick was one of them.  After falling in love with aviation during his backseat F-14 Tomcat flights, Tom was inspired to learn to fly.  Earning himself a Private and Commercial Pilots licence in 1998, Tom then continued on, getting his Multi engine, and Instrument ratings.  Proud owner and operator of a beautiful P-51D Mustang that had actually been flown by the Red Tail Squadron during WW2, a Pitts Special biplane, and a Honda Jet. Tom also earned himself a PPC on the L-39 Czech Jet Trainer.  
Mr Cruise also saved fellow film star Elizabeth Shue from being eaten by e helicopters tail rotor during filming of "Cocktail"
Edward Leo Peter "Ed" McMahon, Jr. (March 6, 1923 – June 23, 2009)
American comedian, actor, singer, game show host and announcer. He is most famous for his work on television as Johnny Carson's sidekick, a position he held for over 30 years.
Before he died, McMahon told his son, Lex, who is a Corporal in the US Army, that he preferred to be remembered as a “Good Entertainer, but a Great Marine”.
His son compiled a list of highlights of his father’s 23-years of service:
Eating powder eggs during Officers Candidates School – even though they were billeted on a farm with hundreds of chickens – some things in the Corps never change!
Being commissioned as a 2nd Lt.
Being made a flight instructor while still in flight school.
Earning his Naval Aviator wings on 4/4/44.
Flying the hottest fighter in WWII – the F4U-Corsair.
Getting reprimanded for conducting “training missions” over his girlfriend’s house.
Becoming a test pilot.
Being reprimanded for conducting “training missions” over his girlfriend’s house again.
Teaching carrier landings.
And yes, being reprimanded for flying “training missions” over his girlfriend’s house AGAIN.
Telling NBC he’d love to sign a big contract to be their next star– but he had just received orders to report to Korea.
Meeting Marilyn Monroe prior to deploying to Korea and having her impishly tell him: “Ed, I’m not wearing anything underneath”.
Flying 85 combat missions in Korea as an artillery spotter.
Cornering the market on food and alcohol by becoming his squadron’s Officer-in-Charge of the Mess Tent and Officer’s Club.
The 3-day long party in Tent 7 with 55-gallon drums of “truce juice” when the armistice was signed.
Participation in creating the Toys for Tots program.
Being promoted to Colonel.
Promoting his son to the rank of Corporal.
Passing a flight physical at age 70 and flying the Harrier Jump Jet.
Working with The Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation to cement the legacy and traditions of Marine Corps Aviation.
And being Major General Lenhert’s Guest of Honor at the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Ball in 2005 – Sir, he had tremendous respect for you and was humbled to be your guest of honor.
Corporal Lex McMahon also wrote a sad and inspiring note in concerning his father’s death:
"Dad – on behalf of a grateful nation, fiercely loyal United States Marine Corps, assembled friends, loving family, and me – a devoted son – it is the highest honor of my life, to fulfill your request to be buried as a Marine. I wish you Godspeed, as you pull chalks and embark on one last mission in your Corsair – destined for the final rally point– Valhalla – warrior heaven. I salute you!"
Lex McMahon
Robert William Barker
Bob reported for active duty on June 9th, 1943: Ensign Barker was commissioned in the United States Navy, training at eight bases on eight different aircraft, including the Taylorcraft, Stearman, BF-13, SNJ, FM2. and the legendary Corsair, also known as the Bent Wing Bastard. Barker was Carrier Qualified on the USS Wolverine.
A little known fact, but in all aspects historically accurate…Bob claimed to have singlehandedly won World War II!
"I was a Naval Aviator, a Fighter Pilot. I completed all facets of my training, including my qualifying landings on a carrier. I was all ready to go, and when the enemy heard that I was headed for the Pacific, they surrendered. That was the end of World War II.”
Robert William Barker
(December 12, 1923 – August 26, 2023)

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