Shatner To Be Recognized as Aviation Inspiration at Living Legends

The annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards honor those who make significant contributions to the world of aviation and aerospace.

Aviator and actor John Travolta will hold the upcoming 20th Annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards in Beverly Hills, California. [Courtesy: Living Legends of Aviation]

Actor William Shatner is set to receive recognition as an aviation inspiration at the upcoming 20th Annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards honoring those who have made significant contributions to the world of aviation and aerospace.

The event, which will be hosted by aviator and actor John Travolta, will be held on Friday January 20, 2023, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. 

Living Legends of Aviation are described as "remarkable people of extraordinary accomplishment in aviation and aerospace. Among their ranks are entrepreneurs, innovators, industry leaders, astronauts, record breakers, pilots who have become celebrities and celebrities who have become pilots.

Event Highlights

Among those to be recognized at the event is actor William Shatner, who will receive the Aviation Inspiration and Patriotism Award. Shatner, 91, is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk from the Star Trek franchise and for being the oldest person to go to space. 

In October 2021,  Shatner—then 90—was one of four crew members aboard Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin Rocket. The flight, which lasted 10 minutes 17 seconds, had a profound impact on Shatner, who, after landing, was very emotional as he struggled to put his feelings into words. In a subsequently released book, "Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder," Shatner explained how the view of the earth from the edge of space made the actor realize how fragile the planet is.

Other Award Winners

Other Legends honorees include:

  • Mike Silvestro, the CEO of Flexjet, who receives the "Lifetime Aviation Industry Leader Award" for his work in the fractional private jet industry.
  • Tim Ellis, who received the "Eren Ozmen Entrepreneur of the Year Award" for the founding of Relativity Space, a company that invented a new approach to design, print and fly its own rockets, starting with the world's first 3D printed rocket.
  • Daniel Drohan, the owner of several aviation companies and the founder of Solairus, private jet and aircraft management, will receive the "Kenn Ricci Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award.’’
  • Max Lyons, philanthropist and dual rated pilot in both helicopters and airplanes and the owner of Hillsboro Aviation will receive the "Elling Halvorson Vertical Flight Hall of Fame Award." 
  • Mack Rutherford, who holds the Guinness Book of World Record for being the youngest person to fly solo around the world in a small aircraft, will receive the "Barron Hilton Aviation Inspiration Award." Rutherford completed the flight in August of 2022 at the age of 17. His sister, Zara, did her own global flight in January at age 19, and currently holds the record for the youngest female to fly solo around the world.

New Living Legends

The Living Legends will also welcome new inductees to their ranks:

  • Greg Evans, an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and lifetime advocate for the business aviation industry. He is the Chairman of the Board of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc., the first company providing complete mission management services for business aviation.
  • Alan Eustace, a pilot and Google executive who performed the highest human free-fall, jumping from 135,890 feet up in the stratosphere.
  • Tom Haines, former editor-in-chief with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. He has flown more than 100 models of general aviation airplanes.
  • Jared Isaacman, American entrepreneur, pilot, philanthropist, and commercial astronaut who led the first all-private citizen crew into orbit. He is also the founder of Draken International, a private air force provider and Shift4 Payments, a payment processor.
  • HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman is a former Royal Saudi Air Force pilot who flew aboard the American STS-51-G Space Shuttle as a payload specialist. He is the first member of a royal family to fly in space and the youngest person ever to fly on the Space Shuttle. In 2018, he was appointed as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Space Commission at the rank of minister.

Remembering Those No Longer With Us

As is tradition, the Legends will also pay tribute to seven Legends who have "flown west" since the Legends' last gathering. These include:

  • Sigi Angerer, the chief pilot of The Flying Bulls, a vintage aircraft fleet based in Europe.
  • Joe Kittinger, who as a U.S. Air Force Captain set the record for the highest parachute jump and longest free fall when he ascended to 102,800 feet above earth in a helium-balloon-tethered gondola and jumped, free falling for 4 minutes and 36 seconds
  • Dietrich Mateschitz, Global businessman and Red Bull co-owner who created the Formula One team.
  • Major General Carl McNair, who served for 32 years with the U.S. Army. McNair was the first Branch Chief of Army Aviation. He also held many leadership roles in the aviation community, including the American Helicopter Society.
  • Frank Robinson, aeronautical engineer and founder of Robinson Helicopter Company.
  • Lou Turpen, who spent his life in aviation and is known for his development of San Francisco International Airport (KSFO), which became a blueprint for other airports across the world.
  • Tom Poberezny, champion aerobatics pilot and long-time leader of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

The event is sponsored by Ducommun, a global provider of manufacturing solutions for the aerospace and defense industries, Sierra Nevada, focused on technology and engineering for the aerospace industry, and Williams International, a world leader in the development, manufacture, and support of gas turbine engines used by the aerospace industry.


The "Living Legends of Aviation Awards" are produced by the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to educate children about and spark their interest in aviation.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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