Tag: This Incredible Pilot

Harrison Ford: A Pilot Who Gives Back To Aviation

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Harrison Ford: A Pilot Who Gives Back To Aviation

As Han Solo, he finished the Kessel Run in much less than 12 parsecs. As Indiana Jones, he discovered exactly how to”fly, yes. Land, no.” And Also as President James Marshall, he flew a paralyzed Air Force One as well as conserved his family members. Harrison Ford isn’t simply a star playing at being a pilot; he’s gained his wings in genuine life.

Born upon July 13, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois, Ford is just one of the highest-earning ticket office A-listers in movie background. Also in air travel, his experiences have actually made headings. While it is simple to consider Ford currently as the guy that has a garage any kind of pilot would certainly covet, air travel had not been constantly a very easy course for Ford. When training ended up being as well pricey, he originally started finding out to fly in the 1960s however was compelled to stop. His love for aeronautics never ever subsided as well as, after his luck in Hollywood, Ford once again transformed his eyes to the skies.

Ford began flying once again in the 1990s, picking up from among his company pilots in a Cessna 182. Ford quickly traded out the 182 for a Cessna 206, the plane that would certainly take him air-borne for his very first solo trip. Ford obtained his exclusive pilot’s certification at the age of 53.

Not one to quit there, Ford took place to make his helicopter scores, although this, also, had a rough beginning. While he exercised autorotations with a trainer in 1999, the helicopter was not able to recuperate power after the fast decrease in elevation. Ford as well as his teacher were able to prevent significant injury. Ford took place to attain his helicopter ranking as well as bought a Bell 407GX helicopter in 2013. Ford in addition gained his Private Pilot Single Engine Sea, Multi Engine Land as well as Instrument Airplane rankings while adding 2 kind scores.

It’s what he has actually done with those rankings that’s most outstanding. Ford has actually taken part in numerous hill saves with his Bell 407, operating in combination with Teton County Search and also Rescue. One rescue entailed recuperating a shed walker. The walker, upon boarding Ford’s helicopter, quickly threw up, later on stating, “I can not think I thrown up in Harrison Ford’s helicopter!” In addition, Ford has actually offered with his helicopter in the middle of the California wildfires.


Ford has actually constantly utilized his Hollywood popularity to aid additionally aeronautics. In 2004, Ford approved the setting as the Young Eagles volunteer chairman. He offered in the setting up until 2009, directly flying greater than 300 Young Eagles trips himself. Ford additionally flew the 2 millionth Young Eagle trip in 2016 at EAA Oshkosh, taking a 16-year-old girl for a flight in his de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver.

While Ford’s popularity loads his garage perfectly, it comes at an expense. No blunder (or also task of pilot ability) goes undetected when you’re one of the most popular individuals in the globe. In 2015, Ford masterfully landed his Ryan PT-22 on a golf links in Venice, California, instantly making headings. The general public assumption that Ford, as a star, should not have actually collapsed in all is absolutely unjust. In truth, Ford landed an airplane that has infamously hostile stall-spin propensities complying with an engine failing soon after launch. He was hurt yet recouped to fly once again.

Once more, in 2 different events in 2017 and also 2020, Ford made headings, when for mistakenly arriving on a taxiway and also when for going across a path without authorization. For a lot of various other pilots, neither would certainly have generated the resulting media craze, however, for Ford, both cases led to an information cycle. Ford very well possessed up to his errors in both circumstances and also has actually proceeded flying.


Ford remains to utilize his popularity for the improvement of the air travel neighborhood, having actually made a number of journeys to Washington, D.C., to promote for the basic aeronautics area along with acting as a board participant of the altruistic aeronautics company Wings of Hope. Ford has actually additionally contributed funds to The Bob Hoover Academy, a philanthropic company that instructs at-risk teenagers in California to fly. Ford himself remains to fly to this particular day.

Do you intend to check out an additional Incredible Pilot? Take a look at “Tex Johnston: The Pilot that Rolled a Boeing 707” below.

Jerrie Cobb: A Life In The Air

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Geraldyn (Jerrie) Cobb was born on March 5, 1931, in Norman, Oklahoma. Her father was Lieutenant Colonel William H. Cobb, and as is typical for military families, she moved around often, living in places like Washington, D.C., Texas and Colorado before moving back to Oklahoma. 

Some people believe that flying runs in the blood, and it sure seemed true in Cobb’s case. When she was 12, she took the controls of her father’s Waco biplane for the first time. By the age of 16, Cobb had earned her private license and was using a Piper J-3 Cub to barnstorm—dropping pamphlets over small towns announcing the arrival of circuses. By the age of 19, she was flying as a commercial pilot and earned her commercial CFI ticket.

Although Cobb was an accomplished pilot, her big opportunity came out of the blue. In 1952, Cobb was giving flight lessons in Oklahoma when she heard of a start-up commercial airline that was hiring DC-3 co-pilots willing to fly only for experience. She used the last of her savings to drive to Miami to interview but was rejected when they saw that she was a woman. Stranded in Miami, Cobb got a clerical job at Miami International Airport and while there, she overheard the owner of Fleetway International saying that he needed pilots to deliver surplus military planes around the world. Cobb spoke up immediately, but the gentleman laughed at the idea of a “girl wannabe pilot.” She responded by silently handing him her logbook—she had over 3,000 hours of flight time. She ferried her first military plane to Peru the very next day. Cobb continued to ferry surplus planes for Fleetway International for three years, returning to Oklahoma in 1955. 

Since the days of Amelia Earhart, women had excelled at setting aviation records, and making her own mark in the record books seemed like a natural next step for Cobb. In 1957, she earned the world record for non-stop distance flight, and in 1959, she earned the world light-plane speed record. That same year, Cobb became the first woman to perform in the Paris Air Show, and she was subsequently named Pilot of the Year. 

With Cobb’s fame growing, American Airlines asked her to do a highly publicized four-hour test flight in the Lockheed L-188 to prove to female passengers that the aircraft was safe. This was her first flight in a turboprop aircraft.


At 28, Cobb was chosen to enter astronaut training in a privately funded and secret program in Albuquerque, alongside a dozen other women. The tests were grueling, but Cobb aced them, scoring in the top 2 percent of all candidates, both male and female. She had hoped that she might one of the women for a chance to go to space, but the program was pulled two days before phase three testing was to begin. 

Despite the heartbreaking rejection, Cobb continued her aviation journey, turning to humanitarian work in South America, where she transported supplies to Indigenous tribes in addition to surveying new air routes to remote areas. 

She continued to fly in South America for over 50 years. In 1973, Cobb was awarded the Harmon Trophy by President Nixon, who said she was “the top woman pilot in the world.” 


Cobb never lost her love for space, and in 1998, she heard that astronaut John Glenn, then 78, would again be going to space as part of NASA’s research on aging. In one last attempt to see space herself, Cobb lobbied for the chance,  and NASA entertained the idea of putting Cobb in space but ultimately never called. 

Cobb passed away on March 18, 2019, 13 days past her 88th birthday. She lived one of the most remarkable lives of any woman in the air. Years after her passing, she continues to be an inspiration for young girls who dream of space. 

Learn about another Incredible Pilot: Mira Slovak

Mira Slovak: Czech Defector, Aerobatics Star, Airline Pilot

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As far as flights went for Captain Mira Slovak, this one was certainly unusual. Passengers were banging on the door, and guns were drawn. His DC-3 lumbering through the night had been hijacked. By him. He had escaped the MiGs sent to intercept him, but the fighters seemed like a cakewalk compared to what lay ahead of him now. After several desperate requests, he had been granted asylum and permission to land in Frankfurt. But the dangers of the flight weren’t over yet: Slovak was going to have to land in the fog, using a ground controller’s commands in a language he didn’t understand. He had no idea what awaited him on the ground. Would he be shot? Would he be sent back to Czechoslovakia, the country ruled by communism that he had tried so hard to escape? 

Slovak was born on Oct. 25, 1929, in Czechoslovakia. Although his parents must have wished for a peaceful easy childhood for him, this was not to be. When he was only 10, Czechoslovakia was overrun by the Nazis. Soon, Slovak and his family noticed that different types of trains were passing their house: livestock trains on their way to Auschwitz. If a train stopped near his house, Slovak, on his mother’s orders, would bribe the guards with cigarettes and ask to feed the “livestock.” During the war, his family hid two Jewish families in their basement. 

But on April 13, 1945, the Slovaks traded the Nazis for the communists. The early occupation of the Russians was a tense time. The family dog was shot by a Russian soldier looking for food. Mira and his father were forced into labor building a bridge for the Russians. Their neighbors, a young married couple, had their house broken into. The Russians beat the husband and raped his wife in front of him. 

With all the turmoil going on around him, Slovak had had little time to think about what he wanted to do as he grew older. Flying had always been a fascination for him, but when he boarded his first airplane in September of 1945, it became a passion. By December of 1946, he had mailed in his application to the new Czechoslovakian Air Force.

He was accepted and quickly progressed through training, landing near the top of his class. The one small hiccup came the day Slovak and the other students were pulled from class and told to sign papers joining the communist party. Slovak had one question: “If I don’t sign, will I still be allowed to fly?” The answer was a solid, “No!” He signed. After graduation from pilot training, he was assigned to fly for the Czech state airline, and by 21 he was a captain. 

Slovak was still a secret anti-communist. He had seen what communism had done to his family, his friends and his country. The “black vans” had taken more than a few of his friends, most of whom had never been seen again. So, Slovak vowed to get out. On March 23, 1953, he smuggled guns aboard his own plane and, with the help of several co-conspirators, locked the rest of the crew in the baggage compartment. Mira made a Ground Control Approach in low weather in West Germany, a difficult feat since, of course, Mira did not speak English. But he had made it. He had escaped the Iron Curtain. 

What followed were months of grilling by U.S. authorities in both Frankfurt and Washington, D.C. Because of his cooperation, the CIA introduced him to Bill Boeing Jr., son of the Boeing Company founder, and Slovak became his personal pilot. 

The U.S. afforded Slovak opportunities he could have only dreamt of under communist rule. He began racing hydroplane boats. He won three national titles within the decade. Those titles came at a price: Slovak had most of his teeth knocked out, his back broken, his face sliced open and his kidneys injured. Slovak once said, “I got to know lots of nurses by their first name.” 


Hydroplanes may have been fun, but his first love was always airplanes. In his off time from hydroplane racing, Slovak continued flying. In 1967, he became a 707 captain for Continental Airlines. He won a championship at the first Reno National Air Races and did aerobatic displays in his Bucker Jungman—the same type of plane he had learned to fly in Czechoslovakia. He also flew a powered glider from Germany to California and then later back. In 1986, Slovak hung up his airline uniform for the last time. He continued his work in aviation, importing and selling airplanes. He passed away on June 16, 2014. 

Slovak’s life was nothing shy of remarkable. He lived every day to the fullest. He was a pilot to the end, with over 38,000 hours in the air in everything from fabric-covered biplanes to jumbo jets. And most importantly: He never did things halfway, whether it was escaping from communism or racing hydroplanes. 

Read about another Incredible Pilot, Bud Anderson