William Shatner decided not to boldly go into orbit, on board Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic spaceship. According to Branson, this is because Shatner is "scared of airline travel." Probably because of those gremlins on the wing, right?
Shatner was invited aboard the Virgin Galactic flight in 2011, and turned it down. Shatner's explanation has less to do with fear, and more to do with money — Branson wanted Shatner to pay for the trip, and Shatner wanted to be paid. Said Shatner:
He wanted me to go up and pay for it and I said, 'Hey, you pay me and I'll go. I'll risk my life for a large sum of money'. But he didn't pick me up on my offer.
In any case, it's a bit sad that nobody sat Shatner down and explained that risk is our business. [MSN]
Update: Shatner commented on this story making the rounds via his Twitter:
As for the silly Daily Mail story- again with Virgin??? How old is this story? They want me to pay and they are using my name for publicity.— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) September 20, 2013
Update #2: Here's the passage from Shatner's book Get a Life! where he talks about his fear and hatred of flying:
I hate flying; flat-out hate its guts. The boredom, the irrational fatigue, the god-awful food, the stupid little air-conditioning jets that blast you from sweltering to freezing in under five seconds, the midget pillows, the paper-towel blankets, the mile-high Porta Pottis, the flatulent fat guy who always seems to sit next to me, the fifty-fifty chance of plummeting to the ground in a massive screaming fireball...you name it, I hate it. In real life, I am by no means "starship captain" material.
Still, despite wobbly knees and intestines, I'm up in the wild blue horror all the time. With homes on both sides of the continent, conventions to attend, film and television locations to visit, air travel is an absolutely necessary evil for me, but it never gets any easier. In fact, anyone who's ever seen the old Twilight Zone gremlin episode, where I got to wreak havoc as an impossibly freaked out coach-class crazy, has witnessed a pretty close approximation of what I'm like every time I leave LAX.
Without fail, on virtually every aircraft unlucky enough to welcome me aboard, I find myself gradually succumbing to fear, monotony, claustrophobia, and a sort of "pressurized cabin fever." In plainer terms, I go nuts. I can't sit still. I fidget, I wander, I whimper, I doodle, I hum along with those tinny airline headphones, I count how many peanuts are packed into my complimentary foil bag (It's almost always 39.), I play my Game Boy like a crazed eleven-year-old...and then the plane takes off and it gets even weirder. Let's put it this way: I may be the only passenger in the history of the airlines stir-crazy enough to sit through Home Alone 3...twice. Further, were it not for that legendary drink-cart-squatting, poop-flinging, drunk-out-of-his-mind businessman who made all the papers a while back, I believe I might very well qualify as single worst passenger in the history of global aviation. I believe you get the picture.
But here I sit, at it again, clumsily poking at my laptop Mac and cursing the fates as today's 747 wobbles down through a layer of smoggy turbulence toward the tarmac and yet another Star Trek convention. Ears pop, babies cry, landing gear kathunks, and we're down — at which point we taxi toward our gate for just under nineteen weeks.
[quote via Amazon.com]