Who are your aviation heroes?

Who are your aviation heroes? Who inspires you to push on with your flight training even though quitting sometimes seems like a very attractive option?

The women in this photo are four pilots from the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots. The WASP, as they were called, were civilians trained during World War II to ferry military aircraft. These four–Frances Green, Margaret (Peg) Kirchner, Ann Waldner, and Blanche Osborn–are shown at Lockbourne Air Force Base in Ohio.

The WASP, collectively, helped me through some frustrating periods in my primary and instrument training. Each time I hit a stumbling block, I would reflect on those women and realize that if they could muscle around B-17s and B-26s, I should be able to handle something like a [insert maneuver here].

So who are your aviation inspirations? Which person or people gave you the inspiration and motivation to push on with your aviation goals? Please tell me in the Comments section, and I will blog your responses.–Jill W. Tallman

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  • Ben

    Robin Olds has always been my aviation hero, flying everything from the mustang to the Phantom, he lived the dream.

  • Robert L. Rhyne, III

    Howard Hughes!

  • Matt F.

    Chuck Yeager since I was a kid. But now with an aspiration for mission flying, pilots like Dwayne King and so many others whose names we’ll probably never know.

  • Doug

    My father who never had a license but always seemed to know someone with a plane, my uncle who was a bombardier in a B-24 in WWII and survived (with the help of the French underground) being shot down over occupied France before D-day, Richard Ira Bong the top ace of WWII who is a somewhat distant relative, and Carl Ben Eilson, a flying pioneer from my home state of ND.

  • Kayak Jack

    While there are many from which to select, I think Jimmy Doolittle gets the nod from me. Very close runner up would be Amelia Earhart.

  • http://www.jillrutanhoffman.com Jill

    The modern Wright Brothers, Burt and Dick Rutan. Their inspiration goes from aviation to space exploration. As Buzz Lightyear famously said “To infinity and beyond.”

  • Don Eck

    Charles Lindbergh, NYP 1927. Over 3000 miles, most of it over trackless, nondescript ocean, making landfall within a couple of miles of his dead reckoned flight planning. Without the aid of any navigational or communication avionics, just an extra accurate magnetic heading indicator called an earth inductor compass. Absolute proof that “navigation” isn’t simply spelled G-P-S, V-O-R, I-L-S, or A-D-F, and also that it is possible to get to your intended destination without talking on the radio. (Although I’m certain he would have used any of those technologies if he’d had the option, and I am glad I’ve had the option.)

  • LuckyLindy


    This was delightful. The “Pistol Packin’ Mamas” photo has been well-traveled.
    My late parents were BOTH pilots in WWII…Mom was a WASP. They flew together for a total of 55 years. Both inspired younger pilots, including me.
    In the later years, never were w/o an overnight bag and supplies for the two golden retrievers who flew w/ them…they did not take off “if we couldn’t see the end of the runway.”..strictly VFR. Mom was by far the better navigator, and when they hit turb, he typically turned 1212 Charlie over to her. Charlie was a restored 1952 Cessna 180. Mimi was also a better golfer, sailor and fly-caster, much as B hated to admit it…why? I think because women have the lighter touch–they are not compelled to overpower, overcorrect..instead, they finesse things. If you have not seen PBS/American Experience “Fly Girls” documentary, you will enjoy.
    Keep it straight and level, LL

  • http://www.aopa.org jtallman

    LL: How wonderful! Wish I could’ve met them. I actually saw “Flygirls,” and what an inspiration. That was my first real introduction to the WASP. Since then I’ve been privileged to see some of the remaining WASP at AirVenture and Women in Aviation International. Thanks for writing.–Jill

  • m klotz

    Mr. Ted Williams. Why? Gen Yeager flew as his wing man!! Before mole

  • Janey

    Hi, can I please use this photograph for my dissertation? – It’s a study of women in the World War II novel. I will credit you in the bibliography.

    Let me know,
    Many thanks,
    J. Holmes

  • http://www.aopa.org jtallman

    Janey, I pulled this off the WASP website, I believe; it’s a pretty iconic image of them that anybody familiar with the WASP would recognize. If you search Google images for Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, you should run across it. Hope this helps! —Jill

  • http://totallyhistory.com/us-history/world-war-ii/ Roberto Garcia

    Those brothers out of Kitty Hawk get my nod. This is another example on how women helped during the war effort in World war II. Thank you ladies for your service and dedication.