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John Travolta pushed for Harry’s award as ‘Living Legend of Aviation’

The celebrity-friendly group hosting the Living Legends of Aviation awards Friday night, Jan. 19, apparently feel a bit bruised over the criticism and mockery unleashed by retired U.K. military brass and others over their decision to induct Prince Harry into their aviation Hall of Fame.
Perhaps looking to counter the argument that Harry’s British military service wasn’t “legendary,” and that honoring him is a “pathetic” publicity stunt, insiders at the show have claimed that he received backing from none other than John Travolta, the ceremony’s emcee and the group’s “Official Ambassador of Aviation.”
The 69-year-old Hollywood icon was one of the “biggest supporters” of the California-based Duke of Sussex being honored at Friday’s event, The Mirror reported. Insiders insist that the Living Legends of Aviation was “humbled” by Harry’s accomplishments, which don’t just include piloting an Apache helicopter on training missions and in Afghanistan. Harry also is being feted because he “stands tall as a philanthropist” for his mental health advocacy and his work on behalf of wounded service men and women with the Invictus Games.
“Our award is a celebration of aviators, but also life-changing human beings connected to our world,” a source told The Mirror. “Any suggestion of this as a publicity stunt is a disgraceful and offensive suggestion.”
Organizers also appear eager to play the nostalgia card by saying that the “Saturday Night Fever” star maintains a “strong emotional link and connection” to Harry through his friendship with his late mother, Princess Diana. For many, the idea of Travolta handing Harry an award has sparked memories of the 1985 White House dinner hosted by Ronald and Nancy Reagan. The “Grease” star memorably took Diana, clad in a blue, velvet gown, on a turn around the dance floor. He later told ABC News that it was one of the highlights of his life.
“(John Travolta) has always felt a connection to (Harry), especially because he and Diana enjoyed that moment of pop culture history by dancing at the White House,” a source told The Mirror. “It was just a year after Harry was born, and the pair both felt their moment was a ‘fairytale.’”
A separate source told The Mirror that Harry looks forward to joining aviators and supporters of the event, which has previously honored Hollywood luminaries who are known for their private flying skills, including Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Angelina Jolie, Kurt Russell and Morgan Freeman.
The annual ceremony is produced by the non-profit, Colorado-based Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, which says its mission is to inspire children’s interest in aviation. Over the past 20 years, this academy has apparently raised money by making a show of handing out awards to people known for their work in the aviation and aerospace industries. Other honorees have included famous astronauts, such as Buzz Aldrin and James Lovell, hero pilots such as Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, and billionaire entrepreneurs, including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.
For this year’s ceremony, which takes place at the Beverly Hilton, VIP tables can cost close to $40,000. William Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk in “Star Trek,” also is expected to attend, and additional star wattage could come from another honoree: Lauren Sanchez, a private helicopter pilot and Jeff Bezos’ fiancée.
After Harry’s award was announced earlier this month, two former senior officers in the British military hit out at the idea that his piloting skills were remarkable. Admiral Lord Alan West, Britain’s former Chief of Naval Staff, told the Daily Mail that Harry “is not a living legend of aviation.”
“To suggest he is, is pathetic,” continued West, who also served during the Falklands War and who oversaw the Royal Navy and Royal Marines when U.K. forces assisted U.S. operations in the invasion of Iraq.
“He didn’t carry off any great exciting feat of amazing flying skill while flying for the army,” West said. “They’re just trying to get publicity. They know it will cause a stir. I find the whole thing really rather pathetic.”
Retired Army Colonel Richard Kemp, who was Britain’s commander in Afghanistan in 2003, derided the event as “celebrities massaging each other’s egos.” While he commended Harry for volunteering to be deployed to a war zone, he agreed with West that the royal’s military service wasn’t “extraordinary.”
“He was a gunner in an Apache helicopter in Afghanistan but so were many, many other people,” Kemp told The Sun. “I can think of many people who did pretty extraordinary things while serving in the British and American armed forces which would be much more deserving of an award like this.”
Criticism over the award for Harry came from other quarters. A change.org petition calling for the award to be reconsidered has garnered more than 12,000 signatories. However, change.org has temporarily pulled the petition, saying that it may have violated its community guidelines. A column in The Telegraph referred to the Living Legends of Aviation as “Hollywood’s weirdest club” and puzzled over Shatner and Jolie receiving awards for “Aviation Inspiration and Patriotism.”
Writer Greg Dickinson also noted that past honoree Harrison Ford is probably best known for his piloting mishaps, which prompted FAA inquiries, the New York Times reported. In 2015, “Star Wars’” Han Solo was injured when a World War II-era training plane he was piloting crashed onto a golf course. In 2017, Ford mistakenly landed on a taxiway at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana and flew over a Boeing 737 commercial airliner that had been carrying 100 passengers.
Legends of Aviation insiders insisted to The Mirror that all “the negativity will not get our attention.” A source also said that Harry’s honor “recognizes so much of his entire life, not just his time flying helicopters and serving in the army.”
“Harry having this platform to celebrate his achievements means so much to him,” the source said.

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