Red Bull Air Race pilots Paul Bonhomme, Kirby Chambliss, Michael Goulian and Pete McLeod rubbed their tuxedo-clad shoulders with the crème-de-la-crème of aviation and some of Hollywood's finest at the recent Living Legends of Aviation gala – an event known as the 'Academy Awards of Aviation'.
All four Red Bull Air Race pilots in attendance at the seventh annual awards ceremony, joined by race director Jim DiMatteo, said they were honored to be invited to the star-studded evening at the Beverly Hilton that paid tribute to 70 people of remarkable accomplishment in aviation.
Tom Cruise, who won the Top Aviation Inspiration and Patriotism Award, told the gathering how he threw up on the plane during the making of his Oscar-winning film Top Gun in 1986, which is the highest-grossing aviation movie of all time. Cruise, an accomplished aerobatics pilot, owns his own P-51 Mustang.
Buzz Aldrin, 80, is one of only 12 astronauts to walk on the moon, as well as a former fighter pilot. He was also honored with the First Out of this World Landing and Take-Off Award.
“It was a true Beverly Hills/Hollywood-style red carpet evening," said Bonhomme, the 2009 Red Bull Air Race World Champion and most successful pilot in the race’s history with 11 career victories and 29 podiums in the last five years. "As well as Cruise and Aldrin, there was also John Travolta, and Kurt Russell with his wife Goldie Hawn – just a great evening."
After walking down the red carpet, the four impeccably-dressed Red Bull Air Race pilots could not resist the chance to try to find out what each had been doing during the off-season to prepare for the 2010 championship. Despite the ebullient atmosphere in Beverly Hills, all four managed to keep their guards up. Observers noted that all were all tight-lipped about what modifications they have been working on, and there was no spilling of the beans.
The Living Legends of Aviation are 70 remarkable people, including entrepreneurs, innovators, industry leaders, record breakers, astronauts, pilots who have become celebrities and celebrities who have become pilots. The Legends meet yearly to recognize and honor individuals who have made significant contributions in aviation.
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