20. Nobuo Fujita was one of the only Japanese pilots to attack the mainland United States during World War II when he dropped a couple bombs over Oregon. He returned years later to present his family’s sword as an apology and was even made an honorary citizen of the city of Brookings
19. Hugh Thompson, an Army helicopter pilot saved hundreds of Vietnamese villagers when he landed his helicopter between a village and his own fellow soldiers. He then threatened to open fire if the soldiers didn’t leave the villagers alone
18. Phil Rasmussen was one of the few American pilots to shoot down a Japanese plane during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He was flying an obsolete plane in his pajamas
17. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, served in WWII with a pilot named Kim Noonien Singh. Gene lost contact with Kim but named the villain in the Star Trek after Kim hoping that he would notice and get in touch
16. In 1956, Thomas W. Attridge’s jet was shot down during a test flight. It was later found that he had run into his own bullets that he had just fired.
15. In 1953, No Kum-sok, a North Korean pilot defected to South Korea with his MiG-15. He received a $100,000 reward from the US military thanks to Operation Moolah. This operation was an American led effort to acquire a MiG aircraft.
14. During the Cold War, SR-71 Blackbirds were tasked with flying over foreign ceremonies to create sonic booms when heads of state were greeting each other
13. In 1958 a pilot ejected from his F-106 when it entered a flat spin. He was surprised to see it come out of the spin and land itself in a cornfield. Today the plane is known as the Cornfield Bomber.
12. Scott O’Grady, the real pilot on which the movie Behind Enemy Lines was based, ended up suing Fox, because they depicted him as a soldier who disobeys orders and swears.
11. 12 cyanide pills were located in the cockpit of the Enola Gay. The crew was instructed to take these pills in case the bombing of Hiroshima went wrong.
10. In 2001 Rowan Atkinson, Mr. Bean, was in a plane with his family when the pilot passed out. Rowan took the controls and slapped the pilot until the pilot woke up.
9. In 2009 two Northwest pilots lost their licenses when they overshot their destination by nearly 200 miles. They only realized their mistake when the flight attendant asked them about landing. Apparently they were both on their laptops.
8. Tex Johnson, a pilot who was demonstrating a Boeing 707, did a barrel roll. When the Boeing executive asked him what the heck was he doing, he replied that he was selling airplanes. He went on to do another barrel roll.
7. In 1994 a FedEx jet was hijacked by a disgruntled employee. In spite of the crew receiving multiple hammer blows, the pilot managed to fly the plane in such a way as to keep the hijacker off-balance. He even flew it upside down. Eventually the crew managed to stop the hijacker and land the plane.
6. Alexey Petrovich Maresyev was a russian pilot who was shot down by germans in 1942. He crawled back to friendly territory for nearly 20 days through the snow. In spite of the fact that his legs had to be amputated, he then went on to fly over 80 more combat missions.
5. US pilot James Risner managed to nudge his friend’s ailing aircraft to friendly territory during the Korean war. He used the nose of his own plane, something that had never been tried before.
4. In 1959 a pilot ejected from his plane at 45,000 feet but flew straight into a thundercloud. The wind kept him airborne for 40 minutes and he even had to hold his breath so that he wouldn’t drown.
3. On 9/11 some fighter jets took off without any ammunition. The pilots knew that they may have to ram their jets into the hijacked airplanes and eject at the last minute.
2. During World War 2 Franz Stigler, a German pilot, refused to shoot down a damaged allied bomber. Instead he escorted it back to the English Channel and saluted the American pilot. Following the war, the two pilots developed a lasting friendship.
1. During World War 2 German pilots in Africa would attach Coke bottles to the bottoms of their planes so that the coke would cool down and be ready to drink when they landed.