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Say, anybody who made an outstanding contribution to technology, flight methodologies, etc (for example, the Wright Brothers); has the FAA ever issued a license (private pilot, etc.) to anyone that deserved such honor?

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  • $\begingroup$ I suspect the answer is no, but I have no evidence. $\endgroup$ – Steve V. Jan 6 '14 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ My inclination is to say no -- certainly not in "modern times", as issuing an airman/mechanic/ATC certificate to someone without the relevant training would be a Bad Thing. It's possible that in the early days (back when the FAA was still the CAA - Civil Aviation Administration) pilots who had been flying before the administration was established were "grandfathered" and given licenses - It's certainly an interesting research question. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Jan 6 '14 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think the FAA considers licenses to be an "Honor", the same way that Universities consider a Degree to be an "Honor". A license is strictly an license; an authorizing document, stating that the holder has met certain training requirements. $\endgroup$ – abelenky Jan 6 '14 at 18:26
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    $\begingroup$ A license granted honoris causa is an honor, same with degrees, @abelenky $\endgroup$ – Pato Sáinz Jan 6 '14 at 18:35
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It's an interesting question, and according to AOPA they did award one to the guy who designed the current FAA license card:

The FAA awarded Dahlvang his own (honorary) certificate, nicely framed with a gold seal.

But it doesn't say what's printed on that certificate and I assume it isn't actually valid for flight. If you give someone a real pilot's license you give them the authority to operate an aircraft and I can't imagine the FAA handing out licenses to unqualified people.

Orville Wright did get an honorary certificate, as did other 'old-timers', but that pre-dates the FAA and again it isn't clear if they were 'real' certificates or not:

I don't know if that really answers the question, but anyway in practical terms I think it's probably a lot easier for the FAA to come up with a suitably impressive but legally worthless certificate rather than give someone a real one and deal with the legal issues involved in breaking their own rules and possibly federal law.

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  • $\begingroup$ I could have designed a better license. However, good answer. $\endgroup$ – Pato Sáinz Jan 6 '14 at 23:37
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    $\begingroup$ A little digging on the airman registry didn't turn up a certificate for Mr. Dahlvang, but some poking around on the artist's own site turned up this -- so basically just a print run with no aviation privileges :) $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Jan 7 '14 at 2:59
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    $\begingroup$ I could use an FAA-approved "graphic designer" license... By the way it still looks too legit and you could easily fool many people into thinking you are actually qualified to be a pilot. Heh. $\endgroup$ – Pato Sáinz Jan 7 '14 at 12:45

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