Airport Journals recently had a wonderful and inspirational profile about actor/pilot Kurt Russell that is well worth reading by pilots, aspiring pilots and their families.
According to the article, Russell’s grandfather was an aerobatic pilot with over 45,000 hours who flew "well into his sixties" and had also spent time as a senior check captain for TWA and a test pilot for Howard Hughes. However, Russell himself never took up the opportunity to fly with his grandfather – a decision he came to regret as it was not until 1988 when he himself finally caught the flying bug and began his pilot training under the watchful eye of his grandfather.
Since then, Russell has owned a Rockwell Commander, Cessna Crusader, Cessna 414, Cessna Conquest, and fractional ownership of a Piaggio Avanti 180 but its his Starduster biplane that is his favorite. Russell is also an instrument rated pilot due to the marine layer that regularly blankets coastal Santa Monica. However, Russell was quoted as saying that he often flies IFR even when local conditions don’t call for it just to stay sharp and he recommends IFR training for all pilots as it makes navigating air traffic safer.
Why does Kurt Russell fly? The article quoted him as saying that:
Flying has taught me more about who I really am than anything I’ve ever done. I take very calculated risks. I’ve done too many stunts on too many movies and television shows to be a daredevil. I learned a long time ago that if you want to do something you enjoy, you want to do it again.
In addition, Russell and the writer of the article also made the following interesting observations:
"When the Wright brothers hopped off the ground, they had about 90 percent of it figured out," Russell says. The veracity of that statement clearly delineates the value of the simplest aviation techniques tucked into the minds of pilots from days gone by.
The article ends by saying that all of Russell’s children have been at the controls of his aircraft but none have yet expressed an interest in beginning pilot training. However, Russell hopes that the doors of aviation remain wide open so that they, like him, may have the opportunity to learn how to fly if and when they eventually catch the flying bug.