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National Aviation Month- not to be confused with National Aviation Day (recognized in Aug.), is a national celebration of achievements by individuals in aviation during November. 

Here are just a few of the most notable U.S. aviators to have graced our earthly and atmospheric skies.

Amelia Earhart

  • More than 80 years later, Amelia Earhart is still a name known throughout aviation history. In addition to attempting to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe in 1937, she is also known for:
    • Achieving celebratory status when she became the first female passenger to cross the Atlantic by airplane. First as a passenger, and later as a solo pilot. 
    • She formed The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots, was a best-selling author, and was one of the first aviators to promote commercial air travel. 
    • She became a visiting faculty member at Purdue University as an advisor and a career counselor. 

Charles Lindbergh

  • Many pilots perished in their attempt to claim the Orteig Prize- a reward offered to the first aviator to fly non-stop from New York City to Paris or vice versa. The unknown Lindbergh burst onto the scene with his successful win of the prize in 1927. He completed the flight in a single-engine Ryan monoplane named the Spirit of St. Louis.
  • Lindbergh’s successful flight created a frenzy with many wanting to fly or invest in airplanes. 

Wilbur and Orville Wright

  • The Wright brothers invented the first airplane controlled by a pilot. 
    • 1902 Wright glider, the first controlled glider with movable rudder allowing the pilot to more precisely control yaw – allowing it to change direction to left or right. 
    • 1905 Wright flyer, dubbed the first practical flying machine.

Neil Armstrong

  • An astronaut aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, kicking off U.S. space exploration.
  • Famous for being the first person to set foot on the Moon. 
  • Tested the North American X-15, a rocket-fueled plane, along with 200 other types of aircraft.

Bessie Coleman

  • First African American- male or female, of American and Native American Ancestry to hold an International pilot’s license. 
  • She was known for her thrilling stunts and flamboyant flying style.

Steve Fossett

  • He became the first person to fly solo nonstop around the world in a balloon and a fixed-wing aircraft.
  • His achievements as a jet pilot in a Cessna Citation X, include records for U.S. Transcontinental, Australia Transcontinental, and Round-the-World westbound non-supersonic flights. 
  • Before Fossett’s aviation records, no pilot had held world records in more than one class of aircraft; Fossett held them in four classes.

Charles McGee

  • One of the original Tuskegee Airmen, McGee paved the way for diversity in the Air Force. During more than 30 years of active duty, he flew 409 fighter combat missions — more than anyone in Air Force history.
  • McGee achieved recognition for his combat and military service with several military decorations, including Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with 25 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Army Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, Hellenic Republic World War II Commemorative Medal, along with many related campaign and service ribbons.
  • McGee received the Congressional Gold Medal. In 2011, he was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and on February 4, 2020, was promoted from colonel to brigadier general.

Guion Bluford

  • After serving in the Air Force for 13 years, Guion Bluford set his sights on space. He became an astronaut in 1983, becoming the first African American in space. He logged four space flights totaling 688 hours.