Captain James T. Kirk. Captain Christopher Pike. Both of these men have captained the original Enterprise-1701 with distinction. William Shatner and Chris Pine, Jeffrey Hunter, Bruce Greenwood and Anson Mount. All of these actors have sat in the big chair and in their own various ways, defined what it means to be the Captain of the Enterprise.
However, there was one man who sat there before any of them, even though the audience has never actually seen him do it. Robert April was the original commander of the Enterprise, from her initial maiden voyage up to Pike taking over from him.
Born in 2195 according to apocrapha, Robert April's life is something of a bridge between the events following Enterprise and the events beginning with The Cage. Born just three years after Jonathan Archer concluded his tenure as President of the United Federation of Planets, April would see Starfleet expand greatly in his own career, before paving the way for the captains that followed him.
He was present when the first keel was laid for the Enterprise, taking command of the vessel in 2245, with Christopher Pike serving as his first officer.
But who is Robert April? And what does he mean to Star Trek history and continuity
5. The First Captain
When Gene Roddenberry first pitch to the network back in 1964, titled 'Star Trek Is...', the captain of the S.S. Yorktown was Robert M. April. Later apocrypha would rename him to Robert T. April, and then eventually just Robert April. This was a name that he had borrowed from two episodes of Have Gun - Will Travel, where Roddenberry had written the chaplain as having that name.
April was the 34 year old 'skipper' of the Yorktown, a ship with 190,000 tonnes and an 18 year lifespan (Which was a nice way to try and confirm a running period for the show!).
April was described as a Horatio Hornblower type, which was a huge inspiration for Star Trek as a whole. Kirk would also be described as this, with both Pike and Picard echoing this as well. Roddenberry had a very defined idea of what he wanted from his leading man - intense and introspective, while still being able to cut a dashing swathe when required.
Said Roddenberry of April:
But, unlike most early explorers, he has an almost compulsive compassion for the plight of others, alien as well as human, must continually fight the temptation to risk many to save one.