Whether or not you’re a fan of Star Trek, the plain truth of it all is that without the fervent fandom that particular science fiction series inspired back in the sixties, the sci-fi/fantasy nerd culture we all live in today might not even exist. Star Wars, of course, exploded the genre to even greater heights, but it was Star Trek that lit the fuse. And it was all the brainchild of one man, a former World War II pilot turned eventual television writer named Gene Roddenberry—and it’s one hell of a heroic tale.
And none of it would have happened if the hands of fate hadn’t stepped in, veering Roddenberry’s life away from that of pilot into one of screenwriter. And the story of just what events occured to make sure that transition happened is one that almost no knows about. Cartoonist Matthew Inman, also known as The Oatmeal, created a brief web comic that details Roddenerry’s brush with death at the age of twenty-five, when he helped save 22 survivors of a plane crash in the Syrian desert back in 1947, an event that changed his life forever.
Gene Roddenberry was the co-pilot of that Pan Am flight, and it was also his third plane crash in just a few years (the others happened during the war). Not only did he show his own true heroism in that incident, but without it, he might have continued living his life as it was, making his living as a commercial airline pilot till retirement, which means no Star Trek.
You can check out The Oatmeal’s complete digital comic strip detailing Roddenberry’s inspiring tale of heroism and survival at the link below. And you should. Because it’s really, really great.
HT: The Oatmeal
IMAGES: CBS/Paramount, Matthew Inman