John Travolta – is a seasoned pilot with more than 5,000 flight hours to his credit. He is certified on 8 different aircraft, including the Boeing 747-400 Jumbo Jet. Some of his personal aircraft include a Cessna A-37 Dragonfly, dual seat, jet fighter trainer, an Eclipse 500 VLJ (very light jet), and a customized Boeing 707 for the long hauls, named Jet Clipper Ella in honor of his children. John Travolta dreamed of being a pilot long before he ever became an Oscar-nominated superstar. From the age of 5, he would spend hours watching the planes come and go @ LaGuardia International Airport, near his early child-hood home in New Jersey. His experience saved him from a total instrument failure in 1992. His house in Florida is situated on a runway, giving him the freedom to fly anywhere at anytime he wants!
Morgan Freeman, while a junior in high school, tried to enlist in the U.S. Force and was counseled by a conscientious recruiter to stay in school and graduate. He got his shot at the Air Force and in 1958, he served 4 years in the Air Force as a radar mechanic, & after a life-altering realization one day while working on an Air Force fighter jet, he decided that flying jets in combat was not what he wanted to do with his life and left the US Air Force shortly afterwards. He headed to Hollywood and the rest is history, except for the fact that he never lost his love & fascination with the world of flight. Six years ago, a close friend took him up in a series of familiarization and training flights. After that, as is his character, he never looked back.
Harrison Ford, more commonly associated with being the infamous smuggler and pilot of the Millennium Falcon (the fasted ship in the galaxy,) is also a seasoned pilot of both airplanes and helicopters. His interest began in the 1960s in Wisconsin where he originally trained in a Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer and a used Gulfstream II. On his private ranch in Wyoming, Ford has been known to offer his services as a helicopter pilot for emergency purposes, and has one instance rescued a stranded hiker suffering from dehydration. In 2004, Ford became the chairman of the Young Eagles program of the Experimental Aircraft Association, a program that gets kids involved and interested in aviation. Ford has flown nearly 300 children with the program.
Clint Eastwood is a Korean War Veteran, patriot & politician, world class actor, director, producer, public speaker, community builder, activist, successful real estate developer, entrepreneur, businessman, & environmentalist. With all his success and fame, Clint Eastwood recently realized the one dream that he had left in the 60’s when the pressures of life were many and the free hours to deal with them were few. He had began flying lessons in the 1960’s in a Bell 47 helicopter, in an effort to obtain his rotary wing rating. Not being able to fit the lessons into an incredible schedule that required his most of his attention, now he owns and flies his own A-Star B1 model helicopter and successfully completed his rotary wing rating in the late 1980’s – early 1990’s. He’s an avid aviation enthusiast and takes the air whenever and where ever the schedule allows.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are one of the most famous couples in the world – and they’re also some of the most famous aviators. Angelina has been a frequent flyer for many years, and even takes her children along for the ride. Angelina received her pilot’s license in 2005 and said at the time that she was inspired by both Maddox and her humanitarian work in Asian and Africa to get into flying. Her and Brad Pitt have also reportedly expressed an interest in being some of the first space travellers on Virgin Galactic. Pitt holds his single-engine license and has even expressed interest in taking helicopter lessons. Like Angelina, Mr. Pitt is inspired by and takes his son Maddox to the skies.
Joseph “Joey” Pantoliano is one of America’s most recognizable and most successful character actors, Joe Pantoliano has more than 75 movies and television series to his credits. Among his credits is a stint in the HBO prime-time / crime-time original series, “The Sopranos”, as the sociopath mobster Ralphie Cifaretto. Few celbrities in Hollywood have a better grip on the reality of life on the mean streets than Joey “Pants” Pantoliano. Growing up on the streets of Hoboken, Cliffside Park, and Park Lee, New Jersey, Joey “Pants”, beat the odds of being raised in the instability of a broken home that had been torn apart by family violence, drugs, alcohol, poverty, and gambling. He not only plays a believable a street-wise tough guy,…he really was one.
Kurt Russell, is the actor famous his numerous roles throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s and most notably for his hit roles in Escape from New York, Escape from L.A., and as a helicopter pilot in The Thing. Much like his role in The Thing, Mr. Russell is also a pilot in real life! Russell is an FAA licensed private pilot holding his single/multi-engine and instrument ratings. Russell’s grandfather was an aerobatic pilot with over 45,000 hours who flew well into his 60s. He’s also an honorary board member of the humanitarian aviation organization Wings Of Hope, one of the largest volunteer humanitarian charities in the world. They use whatever resources are required to affect a positive change in the future for a selected region of the wold, including using general aviation aircraft.
Sydney Pollack’s name was added to our list of Celebrities in Aviation only recently. At that time, we were not aware of his battle with cancer. On May 26th, 2008, Mr. Pollack died at his home in Pacific Palisades, CA. He is quoted as saying, “I don’t have other hobbies. I’ve never been on a golf course. I don’t pay cards, and I don’t collect art; but I love to fly airplanes.” After becoming frustrated with airline travel, he started his love affair with aviation in chartered aircraft, which cut his travel time and frustration considerably between his home in Los Angeles and movie locations. Shortly afterwards, he purchased a Lear 25 and began taking lessons and earned not only his private, commercial, and instrument ratings, but a type rating in the Lear jet as well. He advanced from the Lear onto larger & more complex aircraft, always investing the time and effort necessary to stay safe & proficient behind the yoke of the aircraft he flew.
Tom Cruise, the star of Top Gun himself, is also a pilot in real life! Although not as much of an ace, Cruise has been known to prefer private air travel over airlines, so he obtained his pilots license in 1994. He often pilots all of the private jets that he owns, including his Gulfstream IV, which is so luxurious that it is reported to have a jacuzzi and its own screen room. Along with the Gulfstream, Cruise is rumored to own three to five other private planes. His favorite, though, is his vintage WWII fighter, the P-51 Mustang, which is adorned with “Kiss Me, Kate” along the side. Whether or not that phrase is still there is still up in the air, pun intended. Toted by environmentalists as “emissions impossible,” it is rumored that Cruise even took a jet to get groceries.
Steve McQueen, the “King of Cool” himself has always been known to be somewhat of an anti-hero and a daredevil. Rising to fame in the height of the 60s and 70s, McQueen lived a very exciting life that even included aviation! McQueen’s father was a stunt pilot, but abandoned his mother 6 months after meeting her. McQueen served in the Marines, although not in a flight role. McQueen was known extensively for his on-the-ground activities including racing cars, motorbikes, and dirtbike, off-road racing, and race car driving. He often performed his own vehicle stunts in movies. Aside from the wheeled pastimes, McQueen also had his pilots license. His collection included a 1945 Stearman, a 1946 Piper J3 Club, and a 1931 Pitcairn PA-8 Biplane.
Jimmy Stewart was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1977 and was recognized for his life-long love affair with aviation. After earning his private pilot certification and commercial pilot certification in the 30s, he continued to use his acting experience and connections to gain the necessary weight to join the ranks as the first major movie star to suit up for war in WWII. He was initially thought to only serve a behind the scenes role because of his fame, but his prowess in the skies caused him to lead his own squadron over the skies of Germany. A real life hero during WWII, General Jimmy Stewart, US Air Corps / US Air Force, flew 25 missions in a B-17 over the deadly skies of Germany during this country’s greatest war, and went on to serve in Korea & SAC (Strategic Air Command).
Terry Bradshaw is a college All-American quarterback, a living (NFL) professional football legend, NFL Superbowl Champion (twice), actor, motivational speaker, Southern gentleman rancher & farmer, nationally known sports commentator & pro football analyst, and an entrepreneur with more business ventures than we have the space to list on this page, Terry Bradshaw is known for his sense of humor and easy-going manner. What isn’t widely known about him, is his love of flying. Terry Bradshaw was using aviation as a business tool and making a profit doing it, long before owning your own personal jet was cool. Kolakowski, N. (2008), photos by Private Air photographer, Ian Spanier. Private Air Magazine, The Lears of a Clown, December / January, 2008, pgs. 68 – 74.
Arnold Palmer is a legendary golfer, proflific course designer, and pioneering aviator. Arnold Palmer was the first sports superstar to use general aviation to propel his career. He started out in a leased Cessna just months before he won the first of his seven majors. He talked Jack Nicklaus into buying a plane and set the example for countless others. And, at 78 years of age, he’s still at it. He even has an airport named after him, Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe, PA! He crisscrosses the globe plotting out holes instead of attacking them. Plus, his ride of choice these days, a Cessna Citation X, is just a bit faster than his aircraft of the past. Morrison, Deedee (2007). Private Air Magazine, Drivers Wanted, Private Air’s cover boy was among the first to put wings on the family sttion wagon. October – November, 2007, pg. 12.
Greg “The Shark” Norman is the founder and CEO of Great White Shark Enterprises, Inc., native Australian Greg “The Shark” Norman has spent the last few years transitioning from one of the world’s best known golf superstars, to global businessman & entrepreneur. Greg Norman is considered by many to be one of the all-time great golfers of the modern era. Today, with his fingers in countless multinational business ventures, he utilizes some of general aviation’s finest mounts to conduct business and get him to the office on time. Whether he is jetting around the world in his Gulfstream 550 (his fifth Gulfstream), or taking care of business on a local level in his revolutionary, tilt-rotored Bell 609 aircraft, general aviation plays a critical role in the success of his business and personal ventures. His personal favorite is his Bell 407 helicopter, and he has over 200 hours of stick time in rotorary wing aircraft (that’s helicopters for you civilians).
Gary Player – known to many people by his professional nickname, The Black Knight, what a lot of golf fans (and sports fans in general) don’t know about the legendary professional golfer, is that he is also known as the world’s most traveled athlete. A native of South Africa, Gary Player got his start in golf as an amateur in 1952. More than 14 million miles & 18 major professional golfing championships later (over 160 career victories), the CEO of Florida-based Gary Player Group, Inc., still considers general aviation as one of his most effective business tool. Gary Player has designed over 230 courses in 14 different countries. He has homes in both Florida and South Africa, as well as attending to daily business of a major corporation, keeps him on the go, and in the air. Over the years he’s utilized a host of different jet charters, aircraft leases, and short term rentals.
Richard Branson, while not particularly an aviator himself, has no doubt shaped the past 20 years of aviation, and is setting the motion to set the stage for the next generation of aviation. From his lowly beginnings of a magazine and a mail order record service in the UK, Mr. Branson has expanded his ventures to the skies. He started Virgin Atlantic airlines in 1984, Virgin Australia in 2000, and also operates Virgin airlines in the U.S. and in Africa. He also acquired a European short haul airline in 1996. Recently, he started one of the first space tourism companies, Virgin Galactic, in hopes of promoting the furthering of aerospace technology. Aside from his many business ventures, Branson has also attempted to break numerous world records, including airborne ones in balloons.
William Barron Hilton is a household name because most people have, at one point in their lives, stayed in a hotel bearing the name of the famous son of a hotel pioneer. The Hilton family is one of America’s richest. As a child, Hilton was fascinated with planes and aviation, and learned to be a pilot at the ripe age of 17. He has ratings for single-engine, multi-engine, glider, lighter than air, and helicopter aircraft and maintains a large fleet of aircraft. He’s flown them all, but has since retired from actively piloting craft when he turned 84 in 2012. For his lifelong support of aviation, Hilton was honored with the Gold Air Medal from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in 2009, an award also bestowed upon Chuck Yeager and Charles Lingbergh. He was also inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame and hailed as the “patron saint of the sport of aviation.”
Rusty Wallace is an American legend on the race track, making a name for himself by going fast in fast cars. He made his stock car debut in 1973, and in the ensuing 5 years, he won over 200 races around the Mid-West and was already a star when he joined the United States Auto Club stock car division in 1979, the year he won rookie of the year. He started racing with NASCAR in a few Winston Cup races by 1980, and went on to win an ASA AC Delco Challenge Series in 1983. Rusty had won at least one race every year from 1986 till 2002. In 2004, at age 47, Wallace announced the 2005 season to be his last full time. Rusty also has a huge passion for flying. He’s a jet-rated pilot who would have flown for a career had it not been for stock car racing. He owns several airplanes (including a Learjet 31A) and a Bell 427 helicopter.
Bruce Rossmayer is a Harley-Davidson megadealer who has dealerships in four states with sales exceeding $200 million per year. One of his prime-time dealerships includes the the incredible Destination Daytona, a 150-acre “biker’s paradise” which surrounds it’s motorcycles with amenities including a visitor’s center, an amphitheater, hotels, restaurants, and bars. Bruce Rossmeyer has two “airborne” rides that keep him physically connected to his dealerships; a 2004 Cessna Citation XLS and a mint condition King Air B200.