View Full Version : Interesting aviation quotes......

Vortex what...ouch!
5th Dec 2001, 16:59
A man can criticize a pilot for flying into a mountainside in fog, but I would rather by far die on a mountainside than in bed. What sort of man would live where there is no daring? Is life itself so dear that we should blame one for dying in adventure? Is there a better way to die?
— Charles A. Lindbergh

Life expands in an aeroplane. The traveler is a mere slave in a train, and, should he manage to escape from this particular yoke, the car and the ship present him with only limited horizons. Air travel, on the other hand, makes it possible for him to enjoy the 'solitary delights of infinite space.' The earth speeds below him, with nothing hidden, yet full of surprises. Introduce yourself to your pilot. He is always a man of the world as well as a flying ace.
— Early French advertisement for airline service, quoted in 'The Airline Builders,' Oliver B. Allen.

Science, freedom, beauty, adventure: what more could you ask of life? Aviation combined all the elements I loved. There was science in each curve of an airfoil, in each angle between strut and wire, in the gap of a spark plug or the color of the exhaust flame. There was freedom in the unlimited horizon, on the open fields where one landed. A pilot was surrounded by beauty of earth and sky. He brushed treetops with the birds, leapt valleys and rivers, explored the cloud canyons he had gazed at as a child. Adventure lay in each puff of wind.
I began to feel that I lived on a higher plane than the skeptics of the ground; one that was richer because of its very association with the element of danger they dreaded, because it was freer of the earth to which they were bound. In flying, I tasted a wine of the gods of which they could know nothing. Who valued life more highly, the aviators who spent it on the art they loved, or these misers who doled it out like pennies through their antlike days? I decided that if I could fly for ten years before I was killed in a crash, it would be a worthwhile trade for an ordinary life time.
— Charles A. Lindbergh, 'The Spirit of St. Louis.'

I think there is something exhilarating in flying amongst clouds, and always get a feeling of wanting to pit my aeroplane against them, charge at them, climb over them to show them you have them beat, circle round them, and generally play with them; but clouds can on occasion hold their own against the aviator, and many a pilot has found himself emerging from a cloud not on a level keel.
Cloud-flying requires practice, even if you have every modern instrument, and unless you keep calm and collected you will get into trouble after you have been inside a really thick one for a few minutes. In the very early days of aviation, 1912 to be correct, I emerged from a cloud upside down, much to my discomfort, as I didn't know how to get right way up again. I found out somehow, or I wouldn't be writing this.
— Charles Rumney Samson, ‘A Flight from Cairo to Cape Town and Back,’ 1931.

I have flown in just about everything, with all kinds of pilots in all parts of the world -- British, French, Pakistani, Iranian, Japanese, Chinese -- and there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between any of them except for one unchanging, certain fact: the best, most skillful pilot has the most experience.
— Chuck Yeager

An airplane may disappoint a good pilot, but it won't surprise him.
— anon

Any girl who has flown at all grows used to the prejudice of most men pilots who will trot out any number of reasons why women can't possibly be good pilots. . . . The only way to show the disbelievers, the snickering hanger pilots is to show them.
— Cornelia Fort

Beware of men on airplanes. The minute a man reaches thirty thousand feet, he immediately becomes consumed by distasteful sexual fantasies which involve doing uncomfortable things in those tiny toilets. These men should not be encouraged, their fantasies are sadly low-rent and unimaginative. Affect an aloof, cool demeanor as soon as any man tries to draw you out. Unless, of course, he's the pilot.
— Cynthia Heimel

The pilots life is founded on three things: sex, seniority, and salary, in that order.
— Dr. Ludwig Lederer, corporate physician American Airlines

As the years go by, he returns to this invisible world rather than to earth for peace and solace. There also he finds a profound enchantment, although he can seldom describe it. He can discuss it with others of his kind, and because they too know and feel its power they understand. But his attempts to communicate his feelings to his wife or other earthly confidants invariable end in failure.
Flying is hypnotic and all pilots are willing victims to the spell. Their world is like a magic island in which the factors of life and death assume their proper values. Thinking becomes clear because there are no earthly foibles or embellishments to confuse it. Professional pilots are, of necessity, uncomplicated, simple men. Their thinking must remain straightforward, or they die -- violently.
The men in this book are fictitious characters but their counterparts can be found in cockpits all over the world. Now they are flying a war. Tomorrow they will be flying a peace, for, regardless of the world's condition, flying is their life.
— Ernest K. Gann, forward to 'Island in the Sky,' 1944.

Who was the best pilot I ever saw? You're lookin' at 'im.
— Gordon Cooper in the movie 'The Right Stuff,' 1983.

The thing is, helicopters are different from planes. An airplane by it's nature wants to fly, and if not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or by a deliberately incompetent pilot, it will fly. A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other, and if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance the helicopter stops flying; immediately and disastrously. There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter.
This is why being a helicopter pilot is so different from being an airplane pilot, and why in generality, airplane pilots are open, clear-eyed, buoyant extroverts and helicopter pilots are brooding introspective anticipators of trouble. They know if something bad has not happened it is about to.
— Harry Reasoner, 1971.

What is it in fact, this learning to fly? To be precise, it is 'to learn NOT to fly wrong.' To learn to become a pilot is to learn -- not to let oneself fly too slowly. Not to let oneself turn without accelerating. Not to cross the controls. Not to do this, and not to do that. . . . To pilot is negation.
— Henri Mignoet, 'L'Aviation de L'Amateur; Le Sport de l'Air,' 1934.

A pilot who says he has never been frightened in an airplane is, I'm afraid, lying.
— Louise Thaden

Pilots track their lives by the number of hours in the air, as if any other kind of time isn't worth noting.
— Michael Parfit, 'The Corn was Two Feet Below the Wheels', Smithsonian Magazine, May 2000.

Pilots take no special joy in walking. Pilots like flying.
— Neil Armstrong

Nowadays a businessman can go from his office straight to the airport, get into his airplane and fly six hundred or seven hundred miles without taking off his hat. He probably will not even mention this flight, which a bare twenty-five years ago would have meant wearing leather jacket and helmet and goggles and risking his neck every minute of the way.
No, he probably wouldn't mention it - except to another flier. Then they will talk for hours. They will re-create all the things seen and felt in that wonderful world of air: the sense of remoteness from the busy world below, the feeling of intense brotherhood formed with those who man the radio ranges and control towers and weather stations that bring the pilot home, the clouds and the colors, the surge of the wind on their wings.
They will speak of things that are spiritual and beautiful and of things that are practical and utilitarian; they will mix up angels and engines, sunsets and spark plugs, fraternity and frequencies in one all-encompassing comradeship of interests that makes for the best and most lasting kind of friendship any man can have.
— Percy Knauth, 'Wind on my wings,' 1960.

I had that morning gone to say my farewells to Broadhurst and to the RAF. I had made a point of going to HQ at Schleswig in my 'Grand Charles'. Coming back I had taken him high up in the cloudless summer sky, for it was only there that I could fittingly take my leave.
Together we climbed for the last time straight towards the sun. We looped once, perhaps twice, we lovingly did a few slow, meticulous rolls, so that I could take away in my finger-tips the vibration of his supple, docile wings.
And in that narrow cockpit I wept, as I shall never weep again, when I felt the concrete brush against his wheels and, with a great sweep of the wrist, dropped him on the ground like a cut flower.
As always, I carefully cleared the engine, turned off all the switches one by one, removed the straps, the wires and the tubes which tied me to him, like a child to his mother. And when my waiting pilots and my mechanics saw my downcast eyes and my shaking shoulders, they understood and returned to the dispersal in silence.
— Pierre Clostermann, 'The big show,' 1951.

It is now possible for a flight attendant to get a pilot pregnant.
— Richard J. Ferris, President, United Airlines.

A pilot lives in a world of perfection, or not at all.
— Richard S. Drury, 'My Secret War.'

The engine is the heart of an aeroplane, but the pilot is its soul.
— Sir Walter Raleigh

You've got to land here son, this is where the food is.
— Unknown landing signal officer to carrier pilot after his 6th unsuccessful landing.

I could be president of Sikorsky for six months before they found me out, but the president would only have my job for six seconds before he'd kill himself.
— Walter R. 'Dick' Faull, test pilot.

Son, your wife's legs have more time in the air than you do.
— welcome to a new co-pilot from an old captain.

Sometimes I watch myself fly. For in the history of human flight it is not yet so very late; and a man may still wonder once in a while and ask: how is it that I, poor earth-habitituated animal, can fly?
Any young boy can nowadays explain human flight -- mechanistically: . . . and to climb you shove the throttle all the way forward and pull back just a little on the stick. . . . One might as well explain music by saying that the further over to the right you hit the piano the higher it will sound. The makings of a flight are not in the levers, wheels, and pedals but in the nervous system of the pilot: physical sensations, bits of textbook, deep-rooted instincts, burnt-child memories of trouble aloft, hangar talk.
— Wolfgang Langewiesche, 'A Flyer's World.'

Basic Flying
1: Try to stay in the middle of the air.
2: Do not go near the edges of it.
3: The edges of the air can be recognised by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly there.
- anon

If God had meant for men to fly he would have made their bones hollow and not their heads.
- cliche
If you're faced with a forced landing, fly the thing as far into the crash as possible.
— Bob Hoover

The cockpit was my office. It was a place where I experienced many emotions and learned many lessons. It was a place of work, but also a keeper of dreams. It was a place of deadly serious encounters, yet there I discovered much about life. I learned about joy and sorrow, pride and humility, fear and overcoming fear. I saw much from that office that most people would never see. At times it terrified me, yet I could always feel at home there. It was my place, at that time in space, and the jet was mine for those moments. Though it was a place where I could quickly die, the cockpit was a place where I truly lived.
— Brian Shul, 'Sled Driver; Flying The World's Fastest Jet,' 1992

The facts are that flying satisfies deeply rooted desires. For as long as time these desires have hungered vainly for fulfillment. The horse, and later the motorcar, have merely teased them. The upward sweep of the airplane signifies release.
— Bruce Gould, 'Sky Larking,' 1929

Ladies and gentleman, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.
— Captain Eric Moody, British Airways, after flying through volcanic ash in a B-747.

The worst day of flying still beats the best day of real work.
— clichι

Flying is inherently dangerous. We like to gloss that over with clever rhetoric and comforting statistics, but these facts remain: gravity is constant and powerful, and speed kills. In combination, they are particularly destructive.
— Dan Manningham, 'Business and Commercial Aviation' magazine.

But what I could never tell of was the beauty and exaltation of flying itself. Above the haze layer with the sun behind you or sinking ahead, alone in an open cockpit, there is nothing and everything to see. The upper surface of the haze stretches on like an endless desert, featureless and flat, and empty to the horizon. It seems your world alone. Threading one's way through the great piles of summer cumulus that hang over the plains, the patches of ground that show far far below are for earthbound folk, and the cloud shapes are sculptured just for you. The flash of rain, the shining rainbow riding completely around the plane, the lift over mountain ridges, the steady, pure air at dawn take-offs. . . . It was so alive and rich a life that any other conceivable choice seemed dull, prosaic, and humdrum.
— Dean Smith, 'By the Seat of My Pants'

The air is annoyingly potted with a multitude of minor vertical disturbances which sicken the passengers and keep us captives of our seat belts. We sweat in the cockpit, though much of the time we fly with the side windows open. The airplanes smell of hot oil and simmering aluminum, disinfectant, feces, leather, and puke ... the stewardesses, short-tempered and reeking of vomit, come forward as often as they can for what is a breath of comparatively fresh air.
— Ernest K. Gann, describing airline flying in the 1930's.

5th Dec 2001, 17:38
I hadn't realized it before but Sir Walter Raleigh was really ahead of his time. :)

5th Dec 2001, 18:18
It is now possible for a flight attendant to get a pilot pregnant.
— Richard J. Ferris, President, United Airlines.

I can't believe anyone would say that! Well certainly not the President of United Airlines!
:eek: :eek: :D :D :eek: :eek:

5th Dec 2001, 18:28
You missed one of the best....


Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings,
sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there

I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle flew

And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

John Gallespie Magee Jr. - Spitfire Pilot - (1922-1941)

Vortex what...ouch!
5th Dec 2001, 18:33

Yep left it out on purpose. I have tried to find some of the less well known ones.

5th Dec 2001, 18:57
Sorry about that. Feel like a bit of prat now. :rolleyes:

Vortex what...ouch!
5th Dec 2001, 19:04
:D LOL. Don't worry about it. I just left it out of my list, doesn't mean you can't add it to the thread ;)

gravity victim
5th Dec 2001, 19:09
Wasn't it Gann who also said something like;

"Pilots may be considered overpaid for what they do - yet rare among professions, are capable of earning their entire annual salary in a few minutes. During those minutes, they would gladly exchange the entire sum for the privilege of being somewhere else ."

Vortex what...ouch!
5th Dec 2001, 19:17
I have heard that one before but can't confirm if it was Gann or not.

Here are some of his musings:

There is no more alluring airspace in the world than the slit up a China girl's dress.
— Earnest K. Gann, 'Band of Brothers'.

You can always tell when a man has lost his soul to flying. The poor bastard is hopelessly committed to stopping whatever he is doing long enough to look up and make sure the aircraft purring overhead continues on course and does not suddenly fall out of the sky. It is also his bound duty to watch every aircraft within view take off and land.
— Ernest K Gann, 'Fate is the Hunter.'

Anyone can do the job when things are going right. In this business we play for keeps.
— Ernest K. Gann

He knew that we gave constant lip service to the dictates of safety and howled like Christians condemned to the arena if any compromise were made of it. He knew we were seekers after ease, suspicious, egotistic, and stubborn to a fault. He also knew that none of us would have continued our careers unless we had always been, and still were, helpless before this opportunity to take a chance.
— Ernest K. Gann

MaCleod, since you've flown the SeaBee a lot you'll understand when I say it was the only airplane I ever owned that you could put in a dive, lose a cylinder and stall out!
— Ernest K. Gann

There are airmen and there are pilots: the first being part bird whose view from aloft is normal and comfortable, a creature whose brain and muscles frequently originate movements which suggest flight; and then there are pilots who regardless of their airborne time remain earth-loving bipeds forever. When these latter unfortunates, because of one urge or another, actually make an ascension, they neither anticipate nor relish the event and they drive their machines with the same graceless labor they inflict upon the family vehicle.
— Ernest K. Gann

There are two kinds of airplanes -- those you fly and those that fly you . . . You must have a distinct understanding at the very start as to who is the boss.
— Ernest K. Gann

Are we lost, or are we found at last?
On earth we strive for our various needs, because so goes the fundamental law of man. Aloft, at least for a little while, the needs disappear. Likewise the striving.
In the thoughts of man aloft, food and evil become mixed and sometimes reversed. This is the open door to wisdom.
Aloft, the earth is ancient and man is young, regardless of his numbers, for there, aloft he may reaffirm his suspicions that he may not be so very much. This is the gateway to humility.
And yet, aloft there are moments when man can ask himself, what am I, this creature so important to me? Who is it rules me from birth to tomb? Am I but a slave destined to crawl for labor to hearth and back again? Am I but one of the living dead, or my own god set free? This is the invitation to full life. . . .
Where are we?
If you really must know, I'll tell you.
Never mind. Here aloft, we are not lost, but found.
— Ernest K. Gann, 'Ernest K. Gann's Flying Circus,' 1974.
And he supposed it might not be the best of days. But then, he was flying the mails and was not expected to squat on the ground like a frightened canary every time there was a cloud in the sky. If a pilot showed an obvious preference for flying only in the best conditions he soon found himself looking for work. This was the way of his life and he had always ascended when others had found excuse to keep their feet on the ground.
— Ernest K. Gann, 'Fate is the Hunter.'

During this period Steen and Fox were killed trying a single-engine instrument approach at Moline. Then Campbell and Leatherman hit a ridge near Elko, Nevada. In both incidents the official verdict was Pilot error, but since their passengers, who were innocent of the controls, also failed to survive, it seemed that fate was the hunter. As it had been and would be.
— Ernest K. Gann, 'Fate is the Hunter.'

I am drawn to the new chart with all of its colorful intricacies as a gourmet must anticipate the details of a feast . . . I shall keep them forever. As stunning exciting proof that a proper mixture of science and art is not only possible but a blessed union.
— Ernest K. Gann, 'Fate is the Hunter.'

Rule books are paper - they will not cushion a sudden meeting of stone and metal.
— Ernest K. Gann, 'Fate is the Hunter.'

Electronics were rascals, and they lay awake nights trying to find some way to screw you during the day. You could not reason with them. They had a brain and intestines, but no heart.
— Ernest K. Gann, 'The Black Watch,' 1989.

It's when things are going just right that you'd better be suspicious. There you are, fat as can be. The whole world is yours and you're the answer to the Wright brothers' prayers. You say to yourself, nothing can go wrong ... all my trespasses are forgiven. Best you not believe it.
— Ernest K. Gann, describing advice from 'a very old pelican of an aviator,' 'The Black Watch,' 1989.

Nobody who gets too damned relaxed builds up much flying time.
— Ernest K. Gann, describing advice from 'a very old pelican of an aviator,' 'The Black Watch,' 1989.

5th Dec 2001, 19:34
High Flight, with FAA Supplement

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth(1),
And danced(2) the skies on laughter silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed(3) and joined the tumbling mirth(4)
Of sun-split clouds(5) and done a hundred things(6)
You have not dreamed of -- Wheeled and soared and swung(7)
High in the sunlit silence(8). Hov'ring there(9)
I've chased the shouting wind(10) along and flung(11)
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious(12), burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights(13) with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle(14) flew;
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space(15),
Put out my hand(16), and touched the face of God.
(from John Gillespie Magee Jr., "High Flight")

FAA SUPPLEMENT to "High Flight"
1. Pilots must insure that all surly bonds have been slipped entirely before aircraft taxi or flight is attempted.
2. During periods of severe sky dancing, crew and passengers must keep seatbelts fastened. Crew should wear shoulderbelts as provided.
3. Sunward climbs must not exceed the maximum permitted aircraft ceiling.
4. Passenger aircraft are prohibited from joining the tumbling mirth.
5. Pilots flying through sun-split clouds under VFR conditions must comply with all applicable minimum clearances.
6. Do not perform these hundred things in front of Federal Aviation Administration inspectors.
7. Wheeling, soaring, and swinging will not be attempted except in aircraft rated for such activities and within utility class weight limits.
8. Be advised that sunlit silence will occur only when a major engine malfunction has occurred.
9. “Hov’ring there" will constitute a highly reliable signal that a flight emergency is imminent.
10. Forecasts of shouting winds are available from the local FSS. Encounters with unexpected shouting winds should be reported by pilots.
11. Pilots flinging eager craft through footless halls of air are reminded that they alone are responsible for maintaining separation from other eager craft.
12.Should any crewmember or passenger experience delirium while in the burning blue, submit an irregularity report upon flight termination.
13. Windswept heights will be topped by a minimum of 1,000 feet to maintain VFR minimum separations. 14. Aircraft engine ingestion of, or impact with, larks or eagles should be reported to the FAA and the appropriate aircraft maintenance facility.
15. Aircraft operating in the high untresspassed sanctity of space must remain in IFR flight regardless of meteorological conditions and visibility.
16. Pilots and passengers are reminded that opening doors or windows in order to touch the face of God may result in loss of cabin pressure.

:D :rolleyes:

[ 05 December 2001: Message edited by: Av8trix ]

5th Dec 2001, 19:48
These (and the ones on Military Pilots) are so damn good that I feel duty bound to rip one off and use it as my signature.

Hope no-one minds.

bubba zanetti
5th Dec 2001, 19:57
Not exactly a quote .. but the first thing that pops into my head ...

"From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from the dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose."

by Randall Jarrell

For the first time I was flying by jet propulsion. No engine vibrations. No torque and no lashing sound of the propeller. Accompanied by a whistling sound, my jet shot through the air. Later when asked what it felt like, I said, "It felt as though angels were pushing".

— Generalleutnant Adolf Galland, on his first flight in a jet, the Messerschmitt 262, May 1943

"All of a sudden, space isn't friendly. All of a sudden, it's a place where people can die. . . . Many more people are going to die. But we can't explore space if the requirement is that there be no casualties; we can't do anything if the requirement is that there be no casualties."

— Isaac Asimov, regards the Challenger investigation

[ 05 December 2001: Message edited by: bubba zanetti ]

5th Dec 2001, 20:04
quite the mood lifter, that ;) Always been a favorite though!

5th Dec 2001, 22:36
This is not an exact quotation, but perhaps someone has it. In the early sixties an outer engine on one of the early four engine commercial jets caught fire. The captain was unable to put the fire out, and in fact it eventually burned through the wing. The whole outer section plus engine fell off. The captain successfully landed without casualty. It was one of the American carriers.

At one stage in the events the captain came on the PA with a message to the effect:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I gotta tell you we have a little problem up here. Hell! We gotta big problem."

[ 05 December 2001: Message edited by: Davaar ]

5th Dec 2001, 23:19

If I changed a few words in some of these quotes , I'd think they were about sailing not flying, both consume their devotees. I have learned a few thing in 40 some years of sailing big nad small boats.

"what a beautiful day" can turn into "Oh Sh*t" faster than you can blink.

Anyone who says they have never been afraid while on the ocean has never been on the ocean.

Experiance is the only true teacher while sailing.

All sailors know that powerboaters don't know sh*t

6th Dec 2001, 01:50
Great stuff!

Someone had a quote in here the other day in reply to something I posted about still getting sunburned tonsils. It went something like "only pilots and small children still look at the sky". Steepclimb? can you do the honours on that one?

6th Dec 2001, 02:14
There is a site that has a lot of quotes, cliches etc. If the machine will let me put it on here, it is:

www. s k y g o d.com (without the spaces!)

6th Dec 2001, 09:19
Vortex what? -

Beware of men on airplanes. The minute a man reaches thirty thousand feet, he immediately becomes consumed by distasteful sexual fantasies which involve doing uncomfortable things in those tiny toilets. These men should not be encouraged, their fantasies are sadly low-rent and unimaginative. Affect an aloof, cool demeanor as soon as any man tries to draw you out. Unless, of course, he's the pilot.
— Cynthia Heimel

Your citation is to "Cynthia Heimel". But to me it sure sounds flaps fourty and a passage from her epic tome - "Night with the Captain"

:D ;) :cool: :D

dAAvid -

6th Dec 2001, 10:37
I believe that the aircraft was a Pan Am B-707. Some one got some pretty dramatic pictures.
A good site for aviation quotes is www.******.com (http://www.******.com)

7th Dec 2001, 16:49

7th Dec 2001, 18:18

I. M. Esperto
8th Dec 2001, 00:03
"I hope you either take up parachute jumping or stay out of single motored airplanes at night."
Charles A. Lindbergh to Wiley Post, 1931.

"Never fly the A Model of anything"
Ed Thompson

Four Seven Eleven
8th Dec 2001, 00:35
Pilots take no special joy in walking. Pilots like flying.
— Neil Armstrong

The irony is that he became more famous for his shortest walk than for his longest flight.