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?
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.