While country music star Tim McGraw may be well-known for his hits like “Truck Yeah” and “Live Like You Were Dying”, did you also know that he’s a certified private pilot? Not only that – he’s an official Cirrus pilot, flying a customized SR22. His plane includes embroidered seats and a “Faith” sticker in the window, for his wife Faith Hill, of course!
Reportedly, famous pop singer Enrique Iglesias purchased his plane before he even became a certified pilot. Don’t worry, he now flies legally. Iglesias says that he learned to fly his own plane, “an ultralight two-seater craft, while cruising between his home in Miami and Key Largo, Florida.”
Dr. Phil McGraw
Phil McGraw, host of the popular daytime talk show Dr. Phil, may be known for his psychological and relationship advice, but he’s also licensed to fly private single-engine airplanes and has an instrument rating. He’s been navigating the skies long before he became a household name, being a certified pilot since 1976.
Beyond his superb acting, directing and writing skills, James Franco has been a certified pilot since 2005 after staring in the movie, Flyboys, in which he played a World War I fighter pilot. Describing how he obtained a private pilot license in an interview, Franco says, “I had a bunch of time, so I went and got my pilot’s license.”
Star Trek actor Michael Dorn may command a spaceship in a movie, but in real life, he’s an avid pilot of airplanes. During the Deep Space Nine series, Dorn went from pretend starship lieutenant to actual airplane pilot who has flown with the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds. In addition, he’s on the Air Force Heritage Foundation’s advisory board.
Musician and singer Jimmy Buffet may sing about Margaritaville, but how do you think he gets there? He flies himself, of course! Buffett has stated that he’s wanted to fly since college, but couldn’t afford it until his breakout success in the 70s and 80s. He’s come a long way since then, and is now the proud owner of six airplanes, including a Cessna 208 Caravan, Boeing E75 Stearman and Falcon 900.
Ken Griffey Jr.
Baseball legend Ken Griffey Jr. may be an accomplished athlete, with 13 Major League Baseball All-Star titles, but did you know that he’s also an accomplished pilot? Not only is Griffey an official Cirrus pilot, he has been named an honorary co-chair of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Foundation’s Hat in the Ring Society. According to the AOPA, the foundation is “a committed group of pilots who support the work of the AOPA Foundation’s mission to promote aviation safety and education and to protect the freedom to fly.”
When frontman and singer of legendary heavy metal band Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson, isn’t rocking on stage with his bandmates, he’s flying the skies in his side gig as a commercial airline pilot. He has regularly flown Boeing 757s in the past, while his latest career path has led him to a partnership with UK-based business jet company, Aeris Aviation.
David Lee Roth
David Lee Roth, original singer of famous hard rock band Van Halen, has been certified to fly helicopters since 2006. In an interview with the New York Times, Roth states that he has always wanted to fly helicopters since he watched the hit TV show, M*A*S*H.
In 2009, the host of the Late Late Show, Craig Ferguson, announced that he became a certified private pilot. During his monologue, he stated that the lessons helped him to overcome a fear of flight, and while he is still afraid, he’s now afraid of the correct things about flying.
She may have been a fixture of British television for over three decades, but recently, Carol Vorderman decided to take time off from her on-screen appearances and pursue her dream of flying solo around the world. Vorderman earned her pilot’s license in 2013, and the next year she was appointed Ambassador to the Royal Air Force (RAF) Air Cadets, the first female Ambassador in the group’s 75-year history. She also assumed the rank of Honorary Group Captain within the group.
James Lipton is already an accomplished writer, lyricist, actor, host and the dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in New York City, but he has also been a certified pilot since 1980. Since then, he has collected over 1,000 hours of flying time and has become a high-ranking member of the AOPA.
Another country music star to make the list is Alan Jackson. While flying to and from gigs, Jackson learned how to fly by watching and learning from the pilot. He expands on this point in a post on his website, stating, “When I started flying to work, I got interested in watching the pilot who flew me and he taught me. At that time, we had a farm with a pretty big grass strip and I had a plane with amphibious gear, so I could land on water, the lake. I just kind of flew around Nashville. I still have my license, I just don’t fly. Denise (Jackson’s wife) got tired of my flying and worrying about me.”
After Scrubs actor, Zach Braff, developed a fear of flying as an adult, he set out to conquer his phobia by learning how to fly. In 2008, he received his private pilot’s license and sharpened his skills at Mach 1 Aviation in Van Nuys, California, behind the controls of a Cirrus SR-20.
Sir David Jason
British comedian and actor of the hit sitcom Only Fools and Horses, Sir David Jason first took the controls of an aircraft at the age of 28. As both a qualified helicopter and glider pilot, Jason helped launched the RAF Air Cadets new flight simulator at the base in Syerston. When asked about his piloting abilities in a Telegraph interview, he said, “I never thought I was academically gifted at school. But when I started flying I found you didn’t need an academic mind – you just needed determination and dedication.”
When golfer Phil Mickelson goes to his tournaments, he rides in style, flying a Gulfstream V valued at around $40 million. So what made this golf legend decide to spend his time learning to fly? Apparently, his father was a former Navy and airline pilot, prompting Mickelson’s initial interest in the world of aviation.
World-famous supermodel, Gisele Bundchen can do much more than walk down a runway—she also happens to be a certified helicopter pilot. Almost 10 years ago, she began taking helicopter lessons in order to educate herself about aviation and promote her agenda for alternative fuel for a UN-sponsored alternative fuel program.
Morgan Freeman has leant his sultry voice to many Hollywood productions, but now, he’s also the voice for general aviation. You can see (and hear) Freeman in AOPA media and in the aviation scene at places like EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. As a mechanic in the Air Force, the actor has always had an interest in aviation, and at 65, took the plunge and learned how to man his own craft.
While Kris Kristofferson ultimately became a legendary country-western singer, he started his career in the Army as a helicopter pilot. In 1965 he resigned his captain’s commission to fly helicopters commercially. It’s been reported that Kristofferson once landed in Johnny Cash’s front yard to deliver Cash some audiotapes of his yet-to-be-heard music, which was the start of a long, successful career.
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