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An aviator is a person who is actively involved in the flight of an aircraft. A pilot is an aviator that directly controls the aircraft. People that fly aboard an aircraft, such as passengers and cabin crew, that are not involved in the aircraft's flight systems are not generally considered to be aviators, but aviation navigators, bombardiers, Weapon Systems Officers, and Electronic Warfare Officers are generally included.

To ensure the safety of people in the air as well as on the ground, soon after aviation began it became a requirement for an aircraft to be under the operational control of a properly trained, certified and current pilot at all times, who is responsible for the safe and legal completion of the flight. The first certificate was delivered by the Aéro-Club de France to Louis Blériot in 1908, followed by Glenn Curtiss, Léon Delagrange, and Robert Esnault-Pelterie. The absolute authority given to the "pilot in command" is derived from that of a ship's captain.Template:Citation needed

In recognition of the aviators' qualifications and responsibilities, most militaries and many airlines around the world award aviator badges to their pilots, as well as other air crews. This includes naval aviators, who are crew members in the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard.

The first recorded use of the term aviator (aviateur in French) was in 1887, as a variation of 'aviation', from the Latin avis (meaning bird), coined in 1863 by G. de la Landelle in Aviation Ou Navigation Aérienne (Aviation or Air Navigation). The term aviatrix (aviatrice in French), now archaic, was formerly used for a female aviator. These terms were used more in the early days of aviation, before anyone had ever seen an airplane fly, and it was used to denote bravery and adventure. For example, the editors at the Dayton Herald, (in an article of December 18, 1903) described the Wright brothers' first airplane as thus: "The weight, including the body of the aviator, is slightly over 700 pounds".

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Aviator" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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