Prince Harry was recognized on January 19th, 2023 as a Living Legend of Aviation at a ceremony in Beverly Hills. The honor was bestowed upon Harry for his achievements piloting Apache helicopters in the British Army. While graciously accepting the award, Harry recalled his late mother Princess Diana’s iconic dance with John Travolta and her impact on his life.
Prince Harry Steps Out Solo to Receive Prestigious Aviation Award
Prince Harry cut a dapper figure as he stepped out solo to receive the Living Legend of Aviation award at the glamorous ceremony. As part of the honor, Harry’s name will be permanently installed on the Living Legends trophy displayed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.
The Duke of Sussex is the first royal family member to receive the Living Legend award. According to Harrison Ford, honorary award chairman, Prince Harry was chosen for “Supporting charitable efforts to help veterans and those still serving while continuing to volunteer his time to make an impact.”
Award Endorsements from John Travolta and Harrison Ford
Presenting the honor to Prince Harry were Hollywood A-list actors John Travolta and Harrison Ford. Travolta had a special history with Harry’s late mother Princess Diana, as the two famously danced together at the White House in 1985.
“I flew today with Prince Harry on my way here and I’ve got to say it was quite something watching him in command,” Ford praised in presenting the award. “Flying aircraft requires relentless skill and focus to manage risk and succeed in the competitive environment of aviation, the military, business or entertainment.”
Travolta added: “Prince Harry has flown Apache helicopters in combat and piloted expeditions to the North and South poles. He has established sustainable tourism destinations in the Caribbean, promoted COVID vaccine access globally and served in the military for ten years,” Travolta said. “After listening to pilots bragging about spouses or lovers I finally get to boast about dancing with Princess Diana. That’s my living legend honor.”
|Living Legends of Aviation
|Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
|Aviation Inspiration and Patriot Award
|Ukraine’s Air Force
|Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award
|Igor Pasternak, Founder & CEO Worldwide Aeros Corp
|Aviation Technology Leader Award
|Mark Moore, Uber Technologies
Table 1: Summary of key honorees at 2023 Living Legends of Aviation ceremony
Harry Delivers Emotional Tribute to Princess Diana’s Enduring Legacy
In a poignant moment, Harry paid tribute to his late mother Princess Diana’s enduring influence during his acceptance speech.
“I talk a lot about that famous dance she had with John Travolta in 1985,” Harry reminisced. “As I was sitting having dinner next to John, I told him he was probably dining out on that dance for the last 34 years. So mum, even though you’re not here, John thank you for continuing to keep mum’s memory alive.”
Harry went on to credit Diana for instilling in him a lifelong commitment to service from an early age. “My hope it that the work I’ve done makes her incredibly proud,” said the Prince.
The emotional speech clearly resonated with audience members. As Harry returned to his seat, Ford reached over to squeeze his hand while audience members gave him a standing ovation.
Princess Diana’s Charity Work and Aviation Connections
As Harry highlighted, Princess Diana was beloved worldwide for her humanitarianism and charm. She brought awareness to important issues like homelessness and AIDS at a time when they were controversial.
Diana also had connections to aviation. In 1989, she took a flight training course at a Surrey airfield to experience piloting small aircraft. According to her former bodyguard Ken Wharfe, Diana “definitely had the flying bug” and wanted to earn her pilot’s license in the future before her untimely death.
It’s clear Diana’s example continues inspiring her son to take to the skies while championing noble causes.
Mixed Response from Aviation Community on Harry’s Qualifications
While Hollywood celebrities like Ford and Travolta had no qualms about Harry receiving the aviation honor, some in the aviation community were less enthused.
The Living Legends distinction is generally reserved for elite record-breaking pilots and aerospace entrepreneurs. As a result, some felt the Prince’s achievements did not quite measure up.
“He’s not broken any records, invented anything or run any aviation-related charities,” said retired US Airways pilot Chris Doyle. “He’s got his helicopters license and did two tours of Afghanistan which is admirable, but not enough compared with past recipients.”
Such dissenting voices were a minority however. Most of the heavyweight hitters in attendance like FedEx founder Fred Smith and aircraft designer Burt Rutan welcomed Harry into the Living Legends fraternity.
“I flew choppers in Vietnam and I can tell you what Harry did takes steel guts and precision skills,” said Vietnam veteran pilot John Walton of Maverick Aviation Group. “This ain’t no popularity contest – he earned those wings and earned this honor as a certified ace aviator in my book.”
A Beacon for Young Aspiring Aviators
Controversy aside, having Prince Harry in the Living Legends club serves an important purpose according to Travolta.
“Harry can inspire young people to pursue aviation at a time when the world needs more pilots, engineers and astronauts,” Travolta said in an interview. “The Prince earned his wings through hard work and bravery. If he inspires the next generation to do that too, we all win.”
Based on the enthusiastic cheers Harry received from event attendees young and old, Travolta’s vision could very well manifest.
The Road Ahead: How Harry Can Leverage the Honor
Looking ahead, the Living Legend recognition positions Prince Harry for new aviation-focused ventures and partnerships. As the world contends with a pilot shortage crisis and climate change threatens communities globally, Harry’s celebrity influence could make an impact.
Promoting Sustainable Aviation Technology
In teaming up with eco-aviation pioneers, Harry has an opportunity to boost the development of electric planes and synthetic sustainable jet fuels. Bringing these technologies into the mainstream would mitigate aviation’s carbon emissions impact.
Harry could further sustainability efforts by hosting an eco-innovation conference at his sustainable tourism resort in the Caribbean. “Having Prince Harry’s backing provides so much momentum,” said aviation analyst Charlotte Stevens. “He can accelerate funding and enthusiasm for technologies that secure aviation’s future in a carbon-constrained world.”
Recruiting the Next Generation of Aviators
With Travolta’s blessing, Harry is also well positioned to lead recruitment initiatives bringing new pilots and aerospace workers into the industry. School visits, scholarship foundations and flying expos headlined by the iconic royal would undoubtedly inspire many youth to pursue aviation careers. By addressing the worrying pilot shortage, such efforts would have profound economic benefits.
The Living Legend recognition seems tailor-made to harness Harry’s celebrity to keep aviation soaring – a fitting legacy for the People’s Prince.
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