An aircraft pilot or aviator is a person who actively and directly operates the directional flight controls of an aircraft while it is in flight. While other members of a flight crew such as flight engineer, navigator, or any other person involved in the direct flight operations of an aircraft (whether it be a fixed wing airplane, rotary-wing, powered, or unpowered), are also considered "aviators", they are not pilots and do not command a flight or aircraft. Aircrew who are not involved in operating the aircraft's flight systems (such as cabin attendants and mechanics) as well as ground crew are not generally classified as aviators.
In recognition of the pilots' qualifications and responsibilities, most militaries and many airlines worldwide award aviator badges to their pilots, as well as other air crews. This includes naval aviators.
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, when airplanes were extremely rare, and connoted bravery and adventure. For example, a 1905 reference work described the Wright brothers' first airplane: "The weight, including the body of the aviator, is a little more than 700 pounds".
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