Essential Flying Tips from Famous Pilots

Essential Flying Tips from Famous Pilots

May 02, 2019

by Crista Worthy

Chuck Yeager

WWII hero, Air Force test pilot, and the first person to break the sound barrier

“I was always afraid of dying. Always. It was my fear that made me learn everything I could about my airplane and my emergency equipment and kept me flying respectful of my machine and always alert in the cockpit.”

Bob Hoover

U.S. Army Air Forces fighter pilot, USAF and civilian test pilot, flight instructor, air show pilot, author and aviation record-setter

“I’ve survived so long flying because I’ve thought about things. The ‘what ifs.’ I think ahead about what if this goes wrong, what if that goes wrong. I’ve already thought it out, so I know what to do. And I could tell you stories by the hour of situations I’ve walked away from, yet didn’t have to think in the moment about what to do, because I just did what I’d already thought of.”

Col. Clarence Emil "Bud" Anderson

U.S.A.F. (ret), triple ace of WWII and the highest scoring flying ace in his P-51 Mustang squadron

“My, what I would have given for a GPS during World War II!”

Glenn Curtiss

American aviation and motorcycling pioneer, founder of the U.S. aircraft industry and inventor of the seaplane

“With the possible exception of having more pleasing lines to the eye while in flight, the monoplane possesses no material advantage over the biplane.”

Wilbur Wright

Along with his brother Orville, Wright is generally credited with inventing, building and flying the world's first successful airplane

“I confess that in 1901 I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years.”

Clyde Cessna

Aircraft designer, aviator and founder of the Cessna Aircraft Corporation, after an unsuccessful 1911 attempt at flight

“I’m going to fly this thing, then I’m going to set it afire and never have another thing to do with aeroplanes!”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Pilot and author

“I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.”

Amelia Earhart

American aviation pioneer, author and the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, receiving the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for this accomplishment

“I have often been asked what I think about at the moment of take-off. Of course, no pilot sits and feels his pulse as he flies. He has to be part of the machine. If he thinks of anything but the task in hand, then trouble is probably just around the corner.”

Ernest K. Gann

American aviator, author, sailor and conservationist, known for his novels Island in the Sky and The High and the Mighty and his classic memoir of early commercial aviation Fate Is the Hunter, all of which were made into major motion pictures

On flying through thunderstorms: "A pilot may earn his full pay for that year in less than two minutes. At the time of [the] incident he would gladly return the entire amount for the privilege of being elsewhere.”

Wolfgang Langewiesche

German aviator and author, whose book Stick & Rudder is considered a primary reference on the art of flying fixed-wing aircraft

“Flying is done largely with the imagination.”

Richard Bach

Author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Stranger to the Ground, Biplane, A Gift of Wings and other books

About his SeaRey, Puff: “I've owned 41 airplanes. A few of them would talk with me. This little seaplane, though, we've had long conversations in flight. There's a spirit in anything, I think, into which we weave our soul. Not many pilots talk about it, but they think about it in the quiet dark of a night flight.”

Harrison Ford

Actor and pilot

“The focus and the concentration and the attention to detail that flying takes is a kind of meditation. I find it restful and engaging, and other things slip away.”

Angelina Jolie

Actor and pilot

“Anytime I feel lost, I pull out a map and stare. I stare until I have reminded myself that life is a giant adventure, so much to do, to see.”

Elbert Leander "Burt" Rutan

Aerospace engineer noted for his originality in designing light, strong, unusual-looking, energy-efficient aircraft

“The criticism is, once I get something flying, I lose interest in it.”

Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger III

Retired airline captain who, on January 15, 2009, landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River off Manhattan after both engines were disabled by a bird strike; all 155 people aboard survived

“There's simply no substitute for experience in terms of aviation safety.”

Howard Hughes

Billionaire businessman, film director and aviator

“I want to be remembered for only one thing: my contribution to aviation.”


  5. Navy Wings of Gold by F. Willard Robinson

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