The List: The top 21 pilots

Andy Downing
John Glenn

For no particular reason, we decided this would be a perfect week to take the list to the skies and rank our favorite aviators. We arrived at the number 21 completely at random, and there are no ties between this List and anything happening in Columbus this week, at least that we can see. Anyway, apropos of nothing, here's our ranking of the top 21 pilots.

21. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III

Most famous for safely crash landing a plane on NYC's Hudson River. As Sheriff Woody might say, “That wasn't flying, it was falling with style.”

20. Harrison Ford

Yes, Ford piloted actual planes in addition to “Star Wars'” Millennium Falcon.

19. Arnold Palmer

Palmer was more than a golfer and the man behind summer's best beverage.

18. Howard Hughes

The early version. Not the late-life, Rip Van Winkle-esque shut-in.

17. Clyde Cessna

When Cessna started flying in 1911 he likely couldn't envision a multi-national company bearing his name.

16. Wolfgang Langewiesche

His 1944 flying guide, “Stick and Rudder,” is still in print.

15. Jacqueline Auriol

The French flyer had a need for speed, setting several records.

14. Jimmy Doolittle

Still not quite as famous as his animal-communicating doctor brother. (Yes, I know the spelling is different. Don't @ me.)

13. Paul Poberezny

Even a shortage of last-name vowels didn't prevent Poberezny from pioneering the home-built aircraft.

12. Chuck Yeager

The Air Force pilot was the first confirmed to break the speed of sound.

11. Bob Hoover

Modern airshows owe a heavy debt to the aerobatic style he pioneered.

10. John Glenn

The Ohio-born Glenn was an astronaut, a Senator and an American icon.

9. Bill Lear

I mean, they named a jet after him.

8. Bessie Coleman

The first woman of African-American and Native-American descent to hold a pilot's license.

7. Alberto Santos-Dumont

The Brazilian coffee heir was instrumental to the development of heavier-than-air aircrafts.

6. Donald Douglas

The pilot and industrialist launched the Douglas Aircraft Company, which produced planes essential throughout World War II.

5. Charles Lindbergh

Logged the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic. Not to be trusted as a babysitter (too soon?).

4. Amelia Earhart

The first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

3. Neil Armstrong

Sure, everyone on this list touched the clouds, but Armstrong was the first man to walk on the freaking moon.

2. Orville Wright

One of the Wright brothers, who are generally credited with inventing flying.

1. Wilbur Wright

Suck it, Orville.