William Shatner Highlights International Air & Space Hall of Fame Class

Actor best known for his iconic Star Trek role is among five honorees for the class of 2023.

Shatner is best known for the role of Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise from the Star Trek franchise. [Credit: Shutterstock]

William Shatner, actor, writer, director, and philanthropist, will lead a 2023 class of five to be inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame on October 21 in San Diego.

Tickets are on sale for the annual gala at the San Diego Air & Space Museum’s Edwin D. McKellar Pavilion of Flight. Since 1963 the Hall of Fame has been recognizing the most significant contributors to the world of aerospace.

William Shatner [Courtesy: Legends of Flight Hall of Fame]

Shatner is best known for the role of Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise from the Star Trek franchise. Kirk and Star Trek have inspired several generations of aerospace professionals and innovators. In addition to Star Trek the original TV series, Shatner played Kirk in seven of the franchise’s movies, one of which he directed. His 70-year acting career also includes non-science fiction roles, including the police drama T.J. Hooker and television's first reality-based series, Rescue 911. He won Emmys and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of eccentric lawyer Denny Crane on The Practice and Boston Legal. 

In October 2021 at the age of 90, Shatner became the oldest person to go into space on board the Blue Origin NS-18, traveling beyond the Kármán line. Shatner was visibly moved by the experience, saying it had given him a new perspective on life.

Joining Shatner in the 2023 Hall of Fame class are:

Royce Williams: decorated Naval aviator

Royce Williams [Courtesy: Legends of Flight Hall of Fame]

On November 18, 1952, Williams was flying a Grumman F9F Panther with three other members of VF-781 from the USS Oriskany when they encountered seven Mig-15s. Williams’ flight leader and his wingman had to return to the Oriskany following a fuel pump issue, leaving Williams outmanned against aircraft considered to be superior to the Panther. Despite the odds against him, Williams engaged the seven Migs for 35 minutes, shooting down four in the longest dogfight in the history of the U.S. Navy.

Though his Panther was shot 263 times, he was able to make it back to the Oriskany and land safely. Williams received the Navy Cross, Silver Star, and two Distinguished Flying Crosses.

Jessica Meir: astronaut, scientist, Artemis program

Jessica Meir [Courtesy: Legends of Flight Hall of Fame]

Meir is a biologist, NASA astronaut, and a member of the Artemis program focused on landing the first woman and next man on the moon. She joined the space program as an astronaut in 2013, making history as part of the first all-female space walk in October 2019 alongside Christina Koch. Meir was a flight engineer on Expedition 61/62, logging 205 days in space. She holds a Ph.D. in marine biology and is renowned for touting the importance of the STEM curriculum in helping to develop the next generation of astronauts and inspiring a new generation of explorers.

Meier is currently training for the forthcoming Artemis missions, which will involve both lunar and Martian frontiers. It has been suggested she may be the first woman to walk on the moon.

Robert DeLaurentis: record-setting aviator, businessman, and author 

Robert DeLaurentis [Courtesy: Legends of Flight Hall of Fame]

DeLaurentis is perhaps best known for his solo, around-the-world flight in a Piper Malibu Mirage in 2015. It took approximately four months to cover the 26,000 nm, which included stops in 23 countries as part of a fundraising campaign to support aviation programs.

In 2019, DeLaurentis launched in a modified 1983 Turbine Commander 900 he named Citizen of the World for a 26,000-mile polar circumnavigation. The flight was planned for five months, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, turned into a nine-month journey.

DeLaurentis is also an author, with adult books including Flying Thru Life: How to Grow Your Business and Relationships with Applied Spirituality; Zen Pilot: Flight of Passion and the Journey Within; and children’s books The Little Plane That Could; and The Little Airplane That Could Let's Fly!

General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI): remotely piloted aircraft systems

GA-ASI is a worldwide leader in the design, development, and production of remotely piloted aircraft systems, commonly referred to as drones.

General Atomics created the Predator and Reaper aircraft, and its designs have made a significant impact on military operations and helped foster developments in civilian and commercial drone applications. GA-ASI, founded in 1993, is a subsidiary of General Atomics, a diversified technology and defense company.

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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