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San Diego Air & Space Museum inducts Hall of Fame Distinguished Class of 2023

San Diego, CA - July 27, 2023– William Shatner, Star Trek’s “Captain James T. Kirk,” award-winning actor, author, philanthropist, and space tourist; Royce Williams, aviator, and Navy Cross recipient; and Robert DeLaurentis, record-setting American aviator; are among the notable honorees to be honored at the annual star-studded celebration at this year’s International Air & Space Hall of Fame Gala, the San Diego Air & Space Museum announced today. Additional honorees will be announced as the Gala approaches.

Join the San Diego Air & Space Museum in celebrating the honorees on Saturday, October 21, 2023, in the Edwin D. McKellar Pavilion of Flight. Guests from around the world are assembling for a spectacular evening of fun and extraordinary recognition as each guest is treated to a behind-the-scenes look into the lives of these true air and space legends. Since 1963, the International Air & Space Hall of Fame has honored the world’s most significant pilots, crew members, visionaries, inventors, aerospace engineers, business leaders, preservationists, designers, and space explorers.

“We’re exceptionally pleased to honor this exemplary Class of 2023 because these men and women represent a vast range of the ongoing advances in aviation and space exploration,” said Jim Kidrick, President & CEO of the San Diego Air & Space Museum. “Achievements in aviation and space, as embodied by the honorees in the prestigious International Air & Space Hall of Fame, directly represent the human pioneering spirit and pursuit of mankind’s final frontiers. This is a can’t miss event and something every guest will remember for the rest of their lives! Guests come from all over the globe just to be in the room with the Honorees and join in this momentous celebration.”

William Shatner
William Shatner has cultivated a career spanning over 70 years as an award-winning actor, director, producer, writer, recording artist, and equestrian. He is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable figures and a major philanthropist. On October 13, 2021, he became the oldest person to go into space, at age 90, on board the Blue Origin NS-18; He went beyond the Kármán line. In 1966, Shatner originated the role of “Captain James T. Kirk” in the television series Star Trek. The series spawned a feature film franchise where Shatner returned as Captain Kirk in seven of the Star Trek movies, one of which he directed. Shatner played the title role in the hit television series T.J. Hooker before hosting television’s first reality-based series, Rescue 911. He won Emmys and his first Golden Globe for his portrayal of eccentric lawyer “Denny Crane” on both The Practice and Boston Legal. Shatner has received four more Emmy nominations as well as other Golden Globe and SAG Award nods.

Royce Williams
On November 18, 1952, E. Royce Williams was flying with three other members of VF-781 from the USS Oriskany when they encountered seven Mig-15s. Before they could engage, William’s Flight Leader and his wingman had to return to the Oriskany due to a fuel pump issue. Outmanned and piloting what most consider an inferior aircraft to the Mig-15, Williams engaged the seven Migs for 35 minutes, shooting down four of them. This would be the longest dogfight in the history of the U.S. Navy, and the deciding factor would be Williams’ skill as a pilot. Though his Panther was shot 263 times, he was able to make it back to the Oriskany and land safely. Williams is the recipient of the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, and two Distinguished Flying Crosses.

Robert DeLaurentis
Robert DeLaurentis is an American aviator, businessman, and author. He was the first solo pilot to fly a Piper Malibu Mirage, a small, single-engine plane, around the world from May 17, 2015, to August 14, 2015. The flight covered 26,000 nautical miles and 23 countries in ninety-eight days for a fundraising campaign to support aviation programs. On August 10, 2020, DeLaurentis completed a nine-month, 26,000 nautical mile polar circumnavigation and global peace mission, “One Planet, One People, One Plane: Oneness for Humanity” in his modified 1983 aircraft named “Citizen of the World.”

The International Air & Space Hall of Fame is the most prestigious induction of its kind in the world. It is composed of hundreds of air and space pioneers, engineers, inventors, and innovators, along with adventurers, scientists, and industry leaders. NASA Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts and Russian cosmonauts are honored in the Hall, as well as famous legends such as the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Neil Armstrong, and Amelia Earhart. Notable inductees also include Buzz Aldrin, Chuck Yeager, Igor Sikorsky, Wernher von Braun, Jack Northrop, Jackie Cochran, William Boeing, Sr., Reuben H. Fleet, Glenn Curtiss, Walter Zable Sr., Fran Bera, Wally Schirra, Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, T. Claude Ryan, Jimmy Doolittle, Bob Hoover, Ellen Ochoa, Peggy Whitson, Linden Blue, Jeff Bezos, Patty Wagstaff, and many more. Click here to learn more.

The San Diego Air & Space Museum is California’s official air and space museum and education center. The Museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, and it was the first aero-themed Museum to be accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The Museum is home to the prestigious International Air & Space Hall of Fame. The Museum is located at 2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92101. The Museum and gift store are open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with admissions until 4:30 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Information provided by the San Diego Air & Space Museum

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