Gene Roddenberry is a hero to many of us for creating Star Trek.
But there was so much more to Gene Roddenberry than the franchise that has become a worldwide phenomenon. Long before he sat down at his typewriter to pen his first script, Roddenberry was in the Army Air Forces during World War II where he flew eighty-nine combat missions. After the war, he became a commecial pilot before joining the Los Angeles Police Department.
It was during his time piloting Pan Am flights in the late 1940s that Roddenberry became a true hero, according to Heroes and Icons. As the third officer on Pan Am Flight 101 from Karachi to Istanbul in the summer of 1947, he was aboard the Lockheed aircraft when it caught fire and went down in the Syrian desert. Roddenberry kept the passengers calm and also pulled people from the wreckage. It’s not something that was well-known about the man, but cartoonist Matthew Inman took it upon himself to bring Roddenberry’s heroics to light by putting them into a comic strip.
The cartoonist tells the life-altering story that happened to Gene Roddenberry.
The plane crash killed fifteen people, including seven crew and eight passengers. Not only did Roddenberry help to save passengers, as the ranking officer, he took control and organized scout parties to find aid. And after the survivors were taken away, either to a hospital or back to the United States, Roddenberry stayed in Syria for two weeks as the local government had questions about the crash.
Inman’s comic details most of the story, which he credits as coming from Star Trek Creator: The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry. The comic reached headline news status after having been viewed over 10 million times. And according to Roddenberry’s biography, another flight incident resulted in his resignation when he then became a police officer prior to creating Star Trek which focused on the future. He didn’t only want to see a better world, though; he obviously helped to make the world a better place.