Great Aviation Quotes: Quotable Flyer: Pilot and Flying Quotations
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The Magic and Wonder
of Flight

 

The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn't it be? —it is the same the angels breathe.

— Mark Twain, Roughing It, Chapter XXII, 1886.

The natural function of the wing is to soar upwards and carry that which is heavy up to the place where dwells the race of gods. More than any other thing that pertains to the body it partakes of the nature of the divine.

— Plato, Phaedrus.

Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.

— Socrates

A single lifetime, even though entirely devoted to the sky, would not be enough for the study of so vast a subject. A time will come when our descendants will be amazed that we did not know things that are so plain to them.

— Seneca, Book 7, first century CE

Limited in his nature, infinite in his desires,
Man is a fallen god who remembers heaven.

— Alphonse de Lamertine, 'L'Homme,' addressed to Byron in 1819. The original French:
Borné dans sa nature, infini dans ses vocux, L'homme est un dieu tombé qui se souvient des cieux.

O to speed where there is space enough and air enough at last!

— Walt Whitman, One Hour to Madness and Joy, 1860.

All the calculations show it can't work. There's only one thing to do: make it work.

— Pierre Georges Latécoère, early French aviation entrepreneur.

Sometimes, flying feels too godlike to be attained by man. Sometimes, the world from above seems too beautiful, too wonderful, too distant for human eyes to see . . .

— Charles A. Lindbergh, The Spirit of St. Louis, 1953.

To be able to rise from the earth;
to be able, from a station in outer space,
to see the relationship of the planet earth to other planets;
to be able to contemplate the billions of factors in precise and beautiful combination that make human existence possible;
to be able to dwell on an encounter of the human brain and spirit with the universe
all this enlarges the human horizon . . .

— Norman Cousins, 1973.

The most beautiful dream that has haunted the heart of man since Icarus is today reality.

— Louis Bleriot

There is no sport equal to that which aviators enjoy while being carried through the air on great white wings.

— Wilbur Wright, 1905.

You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky.

— Amelia Earhart

Most gulls don't bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight—how to get from shore to food and back again. For most gulls, it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight. More than anything else, Jonathan Livingston Seagull loved to fly.

— Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

 

My soul is in the sky.

— William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act V. Scene I.

Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness.

—Alejandro Jodorowski

All agreed that the sensation of coasting on the air was delightful.

— Octave Chanute, regards people who tried his gliders, 1894.

Gliders, sailplanes, they are wonderful flying machines. It's the closest you can come to being a bird.

— Neil Armstrong

More than anything else the sensation is one of perfect peace mingled with an excitement that strains every nerve to the utmost, if you can conceive of such a combination.

— Wilbur Wright

The exhilaration of flying is too keen, the pleasure too great, for it to be neglected as a sport.

— Orville Wright

Within all of us is a varying amount of space lint and star dust, the residue from our creation. Most are too busy to notice it, and it is stronger in some than others. It is strongest in those of us who fly and is responsible for an unconscious, subtle desire to slip into some wings and try for the elusive boundaries of our origin.

— K O Eckland, Footprints On Clouds.

No one can realize how substantial the air is, until he feels its supporting power beneath him. It inspires confidence at once.

— Otto Lilienthal

We returned home, after these experiments, with the conviction that sailing flight was not the exclusive prerogative of birds.

— Otto Lilienthal, 1874.

When gliding operators have attained greater skill, they can maintain themselves in the air for hours at a time.

— Wilbur Wright, 1901.

The soaring pilot makes an aerial excursion, not an incursion. His passage leaves a whisper, not a shriek.

— Richard Miller, 1967.

The air to a glider pilot is a reality. . . . He is trying to understand it in all its moods; to learn its flow, its laws, and to try and use this knowledge to his own ends.

— Philip Wills

By day, or on a cloudless night, a pilot may drink the wine of the gods, but it has an earthly taste; he's a god of the earth, like one of the Grecian deities who lives on worldly mountains and descended for intercourse with men. But at night, over a stratus layer, all sense of the planet may disappear. You know that down below, beneath that heavenly blanket is the earth, factual and hard. But it's an intellectual knowledge; it's a knowledge tucked away in the mind; not a feeling that penetrates the body. And if at times you renounce experience and mind's heavy logic, it seems that the world has rushed along on its orbit, leaving you alone flying above a forgotten cloud bank, somewhere in the solitude of interstellar space.

— Charles A. Lindbergh, The Spirit of St. Louis, 1953.

It's wonderful to climb the liquid mountains of the sky, Behind me and before me is God and I have no fears.

— Helen Keller, at age 74, on flight around the world, news reports of 5 February 1955.

My airplane is quiet, and for a moment still an alien, still a stranger to the ground, I am home.

— Richard Bach, Stranger to the Ground, 1963.

Instead of our drab slogging forth and back to the fishing boats, there's a reason to life! We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!

— Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, 1970.

The airplane is just a bunch of sticks and wires and cloth, a tool for learning about the sky and about what kind of person I am, when I fly. An airplane stands for freedom, for joy, for the power to understand, and to demonstrate that understanding. Those things aren't destructable.

— Richard Bach, Nothing by Chance, 1963.

Never stop being a kid. Never stop feeling and seeing and being excited with great things like air and engines and sounds of sunlight within you. Wear your little mask if you must to protect you from the world but if you let that kid disappear you are grown up and you are dead.

— Richard Bach, Nothing by Chance, 1963.

The fascination of flight can't be expressed with words. But it really lies beyond the capabilities of human endeavor. Once you've experienced it, you'll never be able to forget it.

— Friedrich Oblessor, 127 victories WWII.

Can the magic of flight ever be carried by words? I think not.

— Michael Parfit, Smithsonian magazine, May 2000

Lovers of air travel find it exhilarating to hang poised between the illusion of immortality and the fact of death.

— Alexander Chase, Perspectives, 1966

It is as though we have grown wings, which thanks to Providence, we have learnt to control.

— Louis Blriot, Atlantic Monoplanes of tomorrow.'

Flying was a very tangible freedom. In those days, it was beauty, adventure, discovery — the epitome of breaking into new worlds.

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, introduction to Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead, 1929.

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

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

To put your life in danger from time to time... breeds a saneness in dealing with day-to-day trivialities.

— Nevil Shute, Slide Rule: The Autobiography of an Engineer.

Once you have learned to fly your plane, it is far less fatiguing to fly than it is to drive a car. You don't have to watch every second for cats, dogs, children, lights, road signs, ladies with baby carriages and citizens who drive out in the middle of the block against the lights. . . . Nobody who has not been up in the sky on a glorious morning can possibly imagine the way a pilot feels in free heaven.

— William T. Piper, president of Piper Aircraft Corporation.

Courage is the price that life extracts for granting peace. The soul that knows it not, knows no release from little things.
The soul that knows it not knows no release from little things.
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights, where bitter joy can hear
The sound of wings.

— Amelia Earhart

Flying. Whatever any other organism has been able to do man should surely be able to do also, though he may go a different way about it.

— Samuel Butler

[I'm] getting housemaid's knee kneeling here gulping beauty.

— Amelia Earhart, comment in logbook, 1928.

Ours is the commencement of a flying age, and I am happy to have popped into existence at a period so interesting.

— Amelia Earhart, 20 Hrs 40 Mins, 1928.

From the air, the distinctions between residential, commercial, and industrial areas are easily understand while town, county, and state boundaries go unseen.

— Oliver Gillham, The Limitless City, 2001.

The airplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth.

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939.

The magic of the craft has opened for me a world in which I shall confront, within two hours, the black dragons and the crowned crests of a coma of blue lightnings, and when night has fallen I, delivered, shall read my course in the starts.

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939.

The modern airplane creates a new geographical dimension. A navigable ocean of air blankets the whole surface of the globe. There are no distant places any longer: the world is small and the world is one.

— Wendell Willkie

We want the air to unite the peoples, and not to divide them.

— Lord Swinton

Unlike the boundaries of the sea by the shorelines, the "ocean of air" laps at the border of every state, city, town and home throughout the world.

— Welch Pogue

We humans are basically content with a two-dimensional world, which is what we—ve always occupied. We travel mostly on the ground, have traffic jams, parking problems , and we—d do a lot better to look up a little bit because there is that great aerial highway that—s always ready to go, you Don't have to pave it and the benefits are very great.

— Paul MacCready, 'The Pioneers of Flight' episode, Discover Magazine TV show, 2000.

The Wright Brothers created the single greatest cultural force since the invention of writing. The airplane became the first World Wide Web, bringing people, languages, ideas, and values together.

— Bill Gates, CEO, Microsoft Corporation.

I've never known an industry that can get into people's blood the way aviation does.

— Robert Six, founder of Continental Airlines.

Maybe it's sex appeal, but there's something about an airplane that drives investors crazy.

— Alfred Kahn, 'father of airline deregulation.'

whhheeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! The scream of jet engines rises to a crescendo on the runways of the world. Every second, somewhere or other, a plane touches down, with a puff of smoke from scorched tyre rubber, or rises in the air, leaving a smear of black fumes dissolving in its wake. From space, the earth might look to a fanciful eye like a huge carousel, with planes instead of horses spinning round its circumference, up and down, up and down. Whhheeeeeeeeeee!

— David Lodge

My senses of space, of distance, and of direction entirely vanished. When I looked for the ground I sometimes looked down, sometimes up, sometimes left, sometimes right. I thought I was very high up when I would suddenly be thown to earth in a near vertical spin. I thought I was very low to the ground and I was pulled up to 3,000 feet in two minutes by the 500-horsepower motor. It danced, it pushed, it tossed. . . . Ah! la la!

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, letter to his mother regards his first flight in a SPAD-Herbemont. This was one of his first flights, and these are his first words on the experience of flight, Lettres à sa mère, 1921.

Dad, I left my heart up there.

— Francis Gary Powers, CIA U-2 pilot shot down over the Soviet Union, describing his first flight at age 14.

As soon as we left the ground I knew I myself had to fly!

— Amelia Earhart, after her first flight in an airplane, a ten minute sight-seeing trip over Los Angeles, 1920.

Even before [we] . . . had reached 300 feet, I recognized that the sky would be my home. I tumbled out of the airplane with stars in my eyes.

— Geraldyn Cobb, regards her first flight, piloted by her father when she was 12 years old.

I wanted to go higher than Rockefeller Center, which was being erected across the street from Saks Fifth Avenue and was going to cut off my view of the sky. . . . Flying got into my soul instantly but the answer as to why must be found somewhere back in the mystic maze of my birth and childhood and the circumstances of my earlier life. Whatever I am is elemental and the beginnings of it all have their roots in Sawdust Road. I might have been born in a hovel, but I determined to travel with the wind and stars.

— Jacqueline Cochran, The Stars at Noon, 1954.

After about 30 minutes I puked all over my airplane. I said to my self, "Man, you made a big mistake."

— Charles 'Chuck' Yeager, regards his first flight.

I've had a ball.

— Charles 'Chuck' Yeager, describing his 30 year Air Force career.

To invent an airplane is nothing. To build one is something. To fly is everything.

— Otto Lilienthal

Aeronautics was neither an industry nor a science. It was a miracle.

— Igor Sikorsky

It is not the visions but the activity which makes you happy, and the joy and glory of the flier is the flight itself. . .
Every time I have gone up in an aeroplane and looked down have realized I was free of the ground, I have had the consciousness of a new discovery. "I see:" I have thought, "This was the idea. And now I understand everything."

— Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa, 1937.

You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment you touch the perfect speed. And that isn't flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, of flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfect speed, my son, is being there.

— Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, 1970.

There is no excuse for an airplane unless it will fly fast!

— Roscoe Turner

Professor Focke and his technicians standing below grew ever smaller as I continued to rise straight up, 50 metres, 75 metres, 100 metres. Then I gently began to throttle back and the speed of ascent dwindled till I was hovering motionless in midair. This was intoxicating! I thought of the lark, so light and small of wing, hovering over the summer fields. Now man had wrested from him his lovely secret.

— Hanna Reitsch, German test pilot describing the first helicopter flight.

Everyone asks me 'how it feels to fly.' It feels like riding in a high powered automobile, minus bumping over the rough roads, continually signaling to clear the way and keeping a watchful on the speedometer to see that you do not exceed the speed limit  and provoke the wrath of the bicycle policeman or the covetous constable.

— Harriet Quimby.

That this tiny two-seater box of metal managed to rise into the air at all felt unbelievable. Once we broke ground, it seemed as if I were floating on a magic carpet. The lightness and height made me tingle in somewhat the same way I feel aroused before making love. When I took over the controls, I felt as if I were at the center of my universe instead of orbiting someone else's. I felt then, and still believe now, that piloting a small aircraft is about as good as it gets.

— Barbara Cushman Rowell, Flying South: A Pilot's Inner Journey.

I take the paraglider to the mountain or I roll Daisy out of her hangar and I pick the prettiest part of the sky and I melt into the wing and then into the air, till I'm just soul on a sunbeam.

— Richard Bach, Running From Safety: An Adventure of the Spirit, 1994. Daisy is Richard's Cessna 337

The engine is the heart of an aeroplane, but the pilot is its soul.

— Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh. This is not that other Sir Walter Raleigh, who was beheaded nearly three hundred years earlier. This Sir Walter became the official historian of the RAF.

High sprits they had: gravity they flouted.

— Cecil Day Lewis

This is all about fun. You can grab ahold of an airplane here, and literally take your life in both hands. One for the throttle and one for the stick, and you can control your own destiny, free of most rules and regulations. It may not be better than sex, but it's definitely better than the second time. Adrenaline is a narcotic; it may be a naturally induced narcotic, but it is a narcotic. And once you get it movin' around in there, it's a rush like none other, and when this puppy gets movin...

 — Alan Preston, air race pilot

Flying makes me feel like a sex maniac in a whorehouse with a stack of $20 bills.

— Pancho Barnes

Flying without feathers is not easy; my wings have no feathers.

— Titus Maccius Plautus, Paenulus, Act v, scene 2, c. 220 BCE Original, "Sine pennis volare hau facilest: meae alea pennas non habent."

He rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.

— Old Testament: Psalms XVIII, 10, c. 150 BCE

The reason birds can fly and we can't is simply that they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings.

— Sir James Matthew Barrie

The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who, in their grueling travels across trackless lands in prehistoric times, looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space, at full speed, above all obstacles, on the infinite highway of the air.

— Wilbur Wright

Real flight and dreams of flight go together. Both are part of the same movement. Not A before B, but all together.

— Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow.

I ask people who don't fly, "How can you not fly when you live in a time in history when you can fly?"

— William Langewische, 2001

I cannot imaging anyone looking at the sky and denying God.

— Abraham Lincoln.

We contrive to make the invisible air support us, we relinquish the security of feet on the ground because flying is demanding, delightful, beautiful: because we love it. Very few of us are actually crazy, and nearly all of us manage the risks as well as we can, but we all willingly trade some of our security for the immeasurable beauty of the sky.

— Paul J. Sampson

No bird ever flew nonstop from New York to Tokyo, or raced 15 miles high at triple the speed of sound. But birds do something else. They do not conquer the air; they romance it.

— Peter Garrison

No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.

— William Blake

Fly and you will catch the swallow.

— James Howell, 'Proverbs,' 1659.

Sometimes I feel a strange exhilaration up here which seems to come from something beyond the mere stimulus of flying. It is a feeling of belonging to the sky, of owning and being owned — if only for a moment - by the air I breathe. It is akin to the well known claim of the swallow: each bird staking out his personal bug-strewn slice of heaven, his inviolate property of the blue.

— Guy Murchie, 'Song of the Sky,' 1954.

Splutter, splutter. Yes - we're off - we're rising. But why start off with an engine like that? But it smooths out now, like a long sigh, like a person breathing easily, freely. Like someone singing ecstatically, climbing, soaring - sustained note of power and joy. We turn from the lights of the city; we pivot on a dark wing; we roar over the earth. The plane seems exultant now, even arrogant. We did it, we did it! We're up, above you. We were dependant on you just now, prisoners fawning on you for favors, for wind and light. But now, we are free. We are up; we are off. We can toss you aside, for we are above it.

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Listen! the Wind, 1938.

 

I had never cared about flying, and in fact had only once been up in the air; although I do a great deal of motor-boat and car racing, I had always been afraid of flying. I used to tell my friends that I should never fly and that sometimes I even hated butterflies, or anything with wings, and that it actually made me dizzy to look at my own foot. That was my outlook so far as flying was concerned until this day when I spied the little machine in that shop window.

— The Hon. Mrs Victor Bruce

Every flyer who ventures across oceans to distant lands is a potential explorer; in his or her breast burns the same fire that urged the adventurers of old to set forth in their sailing-ships for foreign lands. Riding through the air on silver wings instead of sailing the seas with white wings, he must steer his own course, for the air is uncharted, and he must therefore explore for himself the strange eddies and currents of the ever-changing sky in its many moods.

— Jean Batten, Alone in the Sky, 1979.

Travelers are always discoverers, especially those who travel by air. There are no signposts in the air to show a man has passed that way before. There are no channels marked. The flier breaks each second into new uncharted seas.

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, North to the Orient, 1935

. . . the fundamental magic of flying, a miracle that has nothing to do with any of its practical purposes — purposes of speed, accessibility, and convenience — and will not change as they change.

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, North to the Orient, 1935.

I have lifted my plane . . . for perhaps a thousand flights and I have never felt her wheels glide from the Earth into the air without knowing the uncertainty and the exhilaration of first-born adventure.

— Beryl Markham

I'll run my hand gently over the wing of a small airplane and say to him, "This plane can teach you more things and give you more gifts than I ever could. It won't get you a better job, a faster car, or a bigger house. But if you treat it with respect and keep your eyes open, it may remind you of some things you used to know — that life is in the moment, joy matters more than money, the world is a beautiful place, and that dreams really, truly are possible." And then, because airplanes speak in a language beyond words, I'll take him up in the evening summer sky and let the airplane show him what I mean.

— Lane Wallace, 'Eyes of a Child,' Flying magazine, February 2000.

Flying is within our grasp. We have naught to do but take it.

— Charles F. Duryea, 'Learning How to Fly,' Procedings of the Third International Conference on Aeronautics, 1894.

I was sold on flying as soon as I had a taste for it.

— John Glenn

It will free man from the remaining chains, the chains of gravity which still tie him to this planet. It will open to him the gates of heaven.

— Wernher von Braun, 'The Jupiter People,' Time magazine, 10 February 1958.

What is it that makes a man willing to sit up on top of an enormous Roman candle, such as a Redstone, Atlas, Titan or Saturn rocket, and wait for someone to light the fuse?

— Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff, 1979.

It was quite a day. I don't know what you can say about a day when you see four beautiful sunsets. . . . This is a little unusual, I think.

— John Glen, in 'American Chronicle,' Lois and Alan Gordon, 1962.

As you pass from sunlight into darkness and back again every hour and a half, you become startlingly aware how artificial are thousands of boundaries we've created to separate and define.  And for the first time in your life you feel in your gut the precious unity of the Earth and all the living things it supports.

— Russell 'Rusty' Schweikart, returning from Apollo 9

Father, we thank you, especially for letting me fly this flight — for the privilege of being able to be in this position, to be in this wondrous place, seeing all these many startling, wonderful things that you have created.

— L Gordon Cooper Jr, prayer while orbiting the earth, quoted in the New York Times, 22 May 1963

Today gives us a chance to love, to work, to play, and to look up at the stars.

— Henry Van Dyke

No one regards what is before his feet; we all gaze at the stars.

— Quintus Ennius

For my part I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream.

— Vincent Van Gogh

The stars are the apexes of what wonderful triangles! What distant and different beings in the various mansions of the universe are contemplating the same one at the same moment!

— Henry David Thoreau, Walden: or Life in the Woods, 1854.

Do there exist many worlds, or is there but a single world? This is one of the most noble and exalted questions in the study of Nature.

— Albertus Magnus

For everyone . . . must see that astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.

— Plato

Many discoveries are reserved for ages still to come . . . . Our universe is a sorry little affair unless it has in it something for every age to investigate.

— Seneca

Through you, we feel as giants, once again.

— President Ronald Reagan, to the crew of Columbia after their completion of the first shuttle mission, 14 April 1981.

In the press grandstand where I watched Discovery rise against the cloudless sky, the media hit the abort button on cynicism. The Earth shook to the sounds of man, three miles away. The candle lit. . . only someone stripped of awe can leave a launch untouched.

— Jonathan Alter, Newsweek magazine, 9 November 1998.

There is no flying without wings.

— French proverb

And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.

—  Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, Or, The Whale, ch. 96.

Nothing ever built arose to touch the skies unless some man dreamed that it should, some man believed that it could, and some man willed that it must.

— Charles Kettering

To most people, the sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, the sky is home.

— anon.

If you are a woman, and are coming to the flying field seeking stimulation, excitement and flattery, you had better stay away until flying is a little bit safer. If you are thinking that flying will develop character; will teach you to be orderly, well-balanced; will give you an increasingly wider outlook; discipline you, and destroy vanity and pride; enable you to control yourself more and more under all conditions; to think less of yourself and your personal problems, and more of sublimity and everlasting peace that dwell serene in the heavens - if you seek these latter qualities, and think on them exclusively, why - FLY!

— Margery Brown, Flying magazine, 1929.

I learned to watch, to put my trust in other hands than mine. I learned to wander. I learned what every dreaming child needs to know — that no horizon is so far that you cannot get above it or beyond it. These I learned at once. But most things come harder.

— Beryl Markham, West With The Night, 1942.

When I'm up in the air, it's like I'm closer to heaven; I can't explain the feeling.

— First Officer Jeffrey Gagliano, who died on AA 4184.

To fly a kite is to hold God's hand.

— Daniel C. Hawkins

What happiness this is: to fly, skimming over the earth just as we do in our dreams! Life has become a dream. Can this be the meaning of paradise?

— Nikos Kazantzakis, The last temptation of Christ, 1960.

Anyone who's not interested in model airplanes must have a screw loose somewhere.

—Paul MacCready

But to fly is just like swimming. You do not forget easily. I have been on the ground for more than ten years. If I close my eyes, however, I can again feel the stick in my right hand, the throttle in my left, the rudder bar beneath my feet. I can sense the freedom and the cleanliness and all the things which a pilot knows.

— Saburo Sakai, Tokyo, 1956. Japan's greatest living ace with 64 kills, who was banned from flying at the end of W.W. II. From the foreword to Samurai!

They shall mount up with wings as eagles.

— Isaiah 40:31.

How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?

— William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1790.

Anyone who has spent any time in space will love it for the rest of their lives. I achieved my childhood dream of the sky.

— Valentina Tereshkova (Валенти́на Влади́мировна Терешко́ва).

Whether outwardly or inwardly, whether in space or time, the farther we penetrate the unknown, the vaster and more marvelous it becomes.

— Charles A. Lindbergh, Autobiography of Values.

I may be flying a complicated airplane, rushing through space, but in this cabin I'm surrounded by simplicity and thoughts set free of time. How detached the intimate things around me seem from the great world down below. How strange is this combination of proximity and separation. That ground — seconds away — thousands of miles away. This air, stirring mildly around me. That air, rushing by with the speed of a tornado, an inch beyond. These minute details in my cockpit. The grandeur of the world outside. The nearness of death. The longness of life.

— Charles A. Lindbergh, 'The Spirit of St. Louis.'

A small machine is ideal for short flights, joy riding the heavens, or sight seeing among the clouds; but there is something more majestic and stable about the big bombers which a pilot begins to love. An exquisite community grows up between machine and pilot; each, as it were, merges into the other. The machine is rudimentary and the pilot the intellectual force. The levers and controls are the nervous system of the machine, through which the will of the pilot may be expressed-and expressed to an infinitely fine degree. A flying-machine is something entirely apart from and above all other contrivances of man's ingenuity.

The aeroplane is the nearest thing to animate life that man has created. In the air a machine ceases indeed to be a mere piece of mechanism; it becomes animate and is capable not only of primary guidance and control, but actually of expressing a pilot's temperament.

— Sir Ross Smith, K.B.E., National Geographic Magazine, March 1921.

We who fly do so for the love of flying. We are alive in the air with this miracle that lies in our hands and beneath our feet.

— Cecil Day Lewis

Flying alone! Nothing gives such a sense of mastery over time over mechanism, mastery indeed over space, time, and life itself, as this.

— Cecil Day Lewis

It is a huge thrill. You're up there on your own, and you really feel like this is life. I'm the king of the castle up here. That's really what it's like.

— Eric 'Winkle' Brown, British Navy Fleet Air Arm test pilot and war hero. BBC Interview 23 April 2013.

It was a cherished experience. I feel I got the chance to see the inner workings of the grand order of things. In the overall scheme of things, it proves that men can do about anything they want to if they work hard enough at it, and I knew that I could do it . . . and that leads, of course, to a strong suspicion that everybody else can do it if they want to.

— Scott Carpenter, recalling his 1962 Mercury 7 space flight.

This was the crystalline moment Dan loved so well, the moment of transition between ground and air, when the laws of aerodynamics took over the job of physical support of the jet. He'd become a pilot for this very moment: the feel of mighty engines and the roar of the slipstream, all converging on the reality of sustained flight on an invisible highway of air. Flying was a thrill in even a single-engine airplane, but to levitate a leviathan — a metallic eggshell longer than a football field and heavier than a house — was a magic he could never quite comprehend. Every liftoff was a philosophical wonder that left a broad smile on his face.

— John J. Nance, Blackout, 2000.

He did it alone. We had a cast of a million.

— Neil Armstrong, regards Charles Lindbergh.

How long can men thrive between walls of brick, walking on asphalt pavements, breathing the fumes of coal and of oil, growing, working, dying, with hardly a thought of wind, and sky, and fields of grain, seeing only machine-made beauty, the mineral-like quality of life?

— Charles A. Lindbergh.

Pilots are a rare kind of human. They leave the ordinary surface of the word, to purify their soul in the sky, and they come down to earth, only after receiving the communion of the infinite.

— Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra, President of Ecuador.

Until now I have never really lived! Life on earth is a creeping, crawling business. It is in the air that one feels the glory of being a man and of conquering the elements. There is an exquisite smoothness of motion and the joy of gliding through space. It is wonderful!

— Gabriele D'Annunzio, 1909.

Flying has always been to me this wonderful metaphor. In order to fly you have to trust what you can't see. Up on the mountain ridges where very few people have been I have thought back to what every flyer knows. That there is this special world in which we dwell that's not marked by boundaries, it's not a map. We're not hedged about with walls and desks. So often in an office the very worst thing that can happen is you could drop your pencil. Out there's a reminder that are a lot worse things, and a lot greater rewards.

— Richard Bach, television interview.

I am alive. Up here with the song of the engine and the air whispering on my face as the sunlight and shadows play upon the banking, wheeling wings, I am completely, vibrantly alive. With the stick in my right hand, the throttle in my left, and the rudder beneath my feet, I can savor that essence from which life is made.

— Stephen Coonts, FLY! A Colorado Sunrise, A Stearman, and A Vision.

I live for that exhilarating moment when I'm in an airplane rushing down the runway and pull on the stick and feel lift under its wings. It's a magical feeling to climb toward the heavens, seeing objects and people on the ground grow smaller and more insignificant. You have left that world beneath you. You are inside the sky.

— Gordon 'Gordo' Cooper, Leap of Faith, 2000.

Then it was intoxicating. The smooth takeoff, and the free feeling of having the world drop away. Soon after leaving the ground, they were crossing patches of stratus that lay in the valleys as heavy and white as glaciers. North for the first time. It was still an adventure, as exciting as love, as frightening.

— James Salter, The Hunters, 1956.

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

More varied than any landscape was the landscape in the sky, with islands of gold and silver, peninsulas of apricot and rose against a background of many shades of turquoise and azure.

— Cecil Beaton, regards an Egyptian sunset, quoted by Hugo Vickers, Cecil Beaton, 1985.

We do not ask for what useful purpose the birds do sing, for song is their pleasure since they were created for singing. Similarly, we ought not to ask why the human mind troubles to fathom the secrets of the heavens. . . . The diversity of the phenomena of Nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the heavens so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.

— Johannes Kepler, Mysterium Cosmographicum.

A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are for. Sail out to sea and do new things.

— Rear Admiral Grace Murray Brewster Hopper.

Every generation has the obligation to free men's minds for a look at new worlds, to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation. Your vision is not limited by what your eye can see, but by what your mind can imagine. . . . Make your life count and the world will be a better place because you tried.

— Astronaut Ellison Onizuka, astronaut, in his graduation address to Konawaena High School, Hawaii, 1980.

Ah hell. We had more fun in a week than those weenies had in a lifetime.

— Pancho Barnes, quoted in The Happy Bottom Riding Club - The Life and Times of Pancho Barnes, by Lauren Kesler.

I have the normal desire, experienced by everybody who's ever flown an airplane with a certain amount of zoom capability, to go a little bit higher and a little bit faster.

— Gordon Cooper, Mercury 9 astronaut, in Life magazine, 1959.

It's the most exciting thing you have ever done with your pants on!

— Stephen Coonts, Flight of the Intruder

Air racing may not be better than your wedding night, but it's better than the second night.

— Mickey Rupp, air racer and former Indianapolis 500 driver.

If you have flown, perhaps you can understand the love a pilot develops for flight. It is much the same emotion a man feels for a woman, or a wife for her husband.

— Louise Thaden, co-founder of the Ninty-Nines.

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.

Be like the bird in flight . . . pausing a while on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, yet sings knowing yet, that she has wings.

— Victor Hugo

Flyers fell a certain kinship with the sight of the earth unencrusted by humanity, they want to see it that way in one sweeping view, in reassurance that nature still exists on her own, without a chain-link fence to hold her.

— Richard Bach, A Gift Of Wings, 1974.

The man who flies an airplane ... must believe in the unseen.

— Richard Bach

The Wright brothers flew through the smoke screen of impossibility.

— Dorothea Brande

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.

When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on or we will be taught to fly.

— Patrick Overton

The last of the lonely places is the sky, a trackless void where nothing lives or grows, and above it, space itself. Man may have been destined to walk upon ice or sand, or climb the mountains or take craft upon the sea. But surely he was never meant to fly? But he does, and finding out how to do it was his last great adventure.

—  Frederick Forsyth

The bluebird carries the sky on his back.

— Henry David Thoreau, Journal

Thou art an eagle, thou doest belong to the sky and not to the earth, stretch forth thy wings and fly.

— Paul H Dunn

The butterfly is a flying flower,
The flower is a tethered butterfly.

— Ponce Denis —couchard Lebrun. In original French, "Le papillon est une fleur qui vole, La fleur un papillon fixé." Quoted in T. B. Harbottle & P. H. Dalbiac, Dictionary of Quotations (French), 1908.

Oh, that I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly away, and be at rest.

— Psalms 55:6

The philosopher is Nature's pilot. And there you have our difference: to be in hell is to drift: to be in heaven is to steer.

— George Bernard Shaw

Long flights give you more time to reflect, look around, experience your surroundings. I got to know the nooks and crannies on Mir very, very well.

— Mike Foale, who has 168 days logged in space.

When all the world is a hopeless jumble
and the raindrops tumble all around,
Heaven opens a magic lane.
When all the clouds darken up the skyway,
there's a rainbow highway to be found,
Leading from your window pane.
To a place behind the sun,
Just a step beyond the rain.

Somewhere over the rainbow way up high,
There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby,
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.

Someday I'll wish upon a star
and wake up where the clouds are far behind me,
Where troubles melt like lemon drops,
away, above the chimney tops, that's where you'll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow, why then, oh why can't I?

If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow,
why oh why can't I?

— lyrics from 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow,' as performed by Judy Garland in 'The Wizard of Oz,' 1939 (pre-recorded 7 October 1938), music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by E.Y. "Yip" Harburg.

Up in the sky, look! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!

— The Narrator, in the 1942 movie 'Superman.'1941

Caution: Cape does not enable user to fly.

— Batman costume warning label, Wal-Mart, 1995.

I'm a new man. I go home exhilarated.

— former President George Bush, after sky diving from 12,500 feet at age 72. March 1997.

It is appearances, characteristics and performance that make a man love an airplane, and they, are what put emotion into one. You love a lot of things if you live around them, but there isn't any woman and there isn't any horse, nor any before nor any after, that is as lovely as a great airplane, and men who love them are faithful to them even though they leave them for others. A man has only one virginity to lose in fighters, and if it is a lovely plane he loses it to, there his heart will ever be.

— Ernest Hemingway, 'London Fights the Robots,' written for Collier's, August 1944.

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.

[Flying] fosters fantasies of childhood, of omnipotence, rapid shifts of being, miraculous moments; it stirs our capacity for dreaming.

— Joyce Carol Oates, 1935

I might have been born in a hovel, but I determined to travel with the wind and the stars.

— Jackie Cochran

Splutter, splutter. Yes - we're off - we're rising. But why start off with an engine like that? But it smooths out now, like a long sigh, like a person breathing easily, freely. Like someone singing ecstatically, climbing, soaring - sustained note of power and joy. We turn from the lights of the city; we pivot on a dark wing; we roar over the earth. The plane seems exultant now, even arrogant. We dit it, we did it! We're up, above you. We were dependant on you just now, prisoners fawning on you for favors, for wind and light. But now, we are free. We are up; we are off. We can toss you aside, for we are above it.

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Listen! the wind, 1938.

So the crew fly on with no thought that they are in motion. Like night over the sea, they are very far from the earth, from towns, from trees. The clock ticks on. The dials, the radio lamps, the various hands and needles go though their invisible alchemy. . . . and when the hour is at hand the pilot may glue his forehead to the window with perfect assurance. Out of oblivion the gold has been smelted: there it gleams in the lights of the airport.

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939.

Flying is more than a sport and more than a job; flying is pure passion and desire, which fill a lifetime.

— General Adolf Galland, Luftwaffe, The First and the Last, 1954.

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.

Before I went to the Mess I made the excuse I wanted to get something out of my aeroplane, and climbed into the cockpit; I did this, however, to be able to say good-bye to the old dear; and I really felt dreadfully sorry to part with her. I get very attached to aeroplanes, and I am one of those people who think that they aren't so inanimate as we are told they are.

— Charles Rumney Samson, A Flight from Cairo to Cape Town and Back, 1931.

Whether we call it sacrifice, or poetry, or adventure, it is always the same voice that calls.

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Man's mind and spirit grow with the space in which they are allowed to operate.

— Krafft A. Ehricke, rocket pioneer.

Again I felt that overpowering rush of excitement which I fond almost everyone has experienced who has seen a man fly. It is an exhilaration, a thrill, an ecstasy. Just as children jump and clap their hands to see a kite mount, so, when the machine leaves the ground and with a soaring movement really flies upon its speeding wings, one feels impelled to shout, to rush after it, to do anything which will relieve the overcharged emotion.

— Harry Harper, describing Bleriot's departure for Dover, in the Daily Mail newspaper, 26 July 1909.

Flying is a lot like playing a musical instrument; you're doing so many things and thinking of so many other things, all at the same time. It becomes a spiritual experience. Something wonderful happens in the pit of your stomach.

— Dusty McTavish

There is a thrill of vulnerability at all airshows. There is no way of making everything completely safe. When the machines are being thrashed to capacity and the pilots are flying at their limits to dazzle, things are bound to go wrong sometimes. There have been some historic disasters, but the danger is a part of the attraction.

— Alex James, bass player of the group Blur, and a private pilot. Bit of a Blur, 2007.

Be like the bird that, passing on her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings.

— Victor Hugo

Birds in flight, claims the architect Vincenzo Volentieri, are not between places — they carry their places with them. We never wonder where they live: they are at home in the sky, in flight. Flight is their way of being in the world.

— Geoff Dyer

Before take-off, a professional pilot is keen, anxious, but lest someone read his true feelings he is elaborately casual. The reason for this is that he is about to enter a new though familiar world. The process of entrance begins a short time before he leaves the ground and is completed the instant he is in the air. From that moment on, not only his body but his spirit and personality exist in a separate world known only to himself and his comrades.

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.

All my life, I've never been able to get enough airplanes. This will keep me flying every day.

— Astronaut Robert 'Hoot' Gibson, commander of four Space Shuttle missions, on his taking a job as a Southwest Airlines B-737 first officer, 1996.

Flying has torn apart the relationship of space and time: it uses our old clock but with new yardsticks.

— Charles A. Lindbergh.

For pilots sometimes see behind the curtain, behind the veil of gossamer velvet, and find the truth behind man, the force behind a universe.

— Richard Bach, Biplane, 1966.

When you look at the stars and the galaxy, you feel that you are not just from any particular piece of land, but from the solar system.

— Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist, STS-107, first Indian born woman astronaut, she died when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during reentry.

When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with all other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.

— John Muir, Travels in Alaska, 1915.

My father had been opposed to my flying from the first and had never flown himself. However, he had agreed to go up with me at the first opportunity, and one afternoon he climbed into the cockpit and we flew over the Redwood Falls together. From that day on I never heard a word against my flying and he never missed a chance to ride in the plane.

— Charles Lindbergh, We, 1928.

When I was twenty, most of my friends were dead. We had sweated out the troopship journey together, shared the excitements of new countries, endured and enjoyed the efforts of learning to fly. At last we had completed our training, and had stood in the hot Rhodesian sun together while our wings were pinned on our chests. We were then more than friends; we were fellow pilots, which to a boy of nineteen was inexpressibly wonderful...

— Captain Lincoln Lee, first words of Three-Dimensioned Darkness: The World of the Airline Pilot, 1962.

The job has its grandeurs, yes. There is the exultation of arriving safely after a storm, the joy of gliding down out of the darkness of night or tempest toward a sun-drenched Alicante or Santiago; there is the swelling sense of returning to repossess one's place in life, in the miraculous garden of earth, where are trees and women and, down by the harbor, friendly little bars. When he has throttled his engine and is banking into the airport, leaving the somber cloud masses behind, what pilot does not break into song?

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Night Flight, 1933.

I can't remember the time when airplanes were not a part of my life and can't remember ever wanting anything so much as to fly one. Once I had started I had to keep flying.
But it was not until I was seventeen that I finally got into an airplane. At that time I felt I had come to the place where I belonged in the world. the air to me was what being on the ground was to other people. When I felt nervous it pulled me together. Things could get too much for me on the ground, they never got that way in the air. flying came into my mind like fresh air into smoked up lungs and was food in my hungry mouth and strength in my weak arms. I felt that way the first time I got into an airplane. I wasn't nervous when I first soloed. There was excitement in me, but it was the nice kind you get when you're going home after a long, long unhappy time away.

— Major Don S. Gentile, USAAF.

There isn't a flight goes by when I don't stare out of the window and thank my stars for what I'm seeing and feeling.

— Richard Branson, pilot and founder of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Galactic. In his book Reach For The Skies, 2011.

Here above the farms and ranches of the Great Plains aviation lives up to the promise that inspired dreamers through the ages. Here you are truly separate from the earth, at least for a little while, removed from the cares and concerns that occupy you on the ground. This separation from the earth is more than symbolic, more than a physical removal-it has an emotional dimension as tangible as the wood, fabric, and steel that has transported you aloft.

— Stephen Coonts, The Cannibal Queen

Those rotary engines. . . the Le Rhones, the Monos, and the Clergets! They made a sort of crackling hiss, and always the same smell of castor oil spraying backwards dThe 0 in a fine mist over your leather helmet and your coat. They were delightful to fly, the controls so light, the engines so smooth running. Up among the sunlit cumulus under the blue sky I could loop and rolls and spin my Camel with the pressure of two fingers on the stick besides the button which I used as little as possible. Looping, turn off the petrol by the big plug cock upon the panel just before the bottom of the dive, ease the stick gently back and over you go. The engine dies at the top of the loop; ease the stick fully back and turn the petrol on again so that the engine comes to life five or six seconds later.

She would climb at nearly a thousand feet a minute, my new Clerget Camel; she would do a hundred and ten miles an hour. She would be faster, I thought, than anything upon the Western Front... A turn to the left in the bright sun, keeping the hedge in sight through the hole in the top plane. A turn to the right. Now, turn in, a little high, stick over and top rudder, the air squirting in upon you sideways round the windscreen. Straight out, over the hedge, and down onto the grass. Remember that the Clerget lands very fast, at over forty miles an hour, and with that great engine in the nose the tail was light. Watch it... Lovely.

— Nevil Shute, The Rainbow and the Rose.

Racing planes didn't necessarily require courage, but it did demand a certain amount of foolhardiness and a total disregard of one's skin. ... I would be flying now, but there's precious little demand for an elderly lady air racer.

— Mary Haizlip, pioneer air racer

"Just try and remember," I said slowly," that if God had intended men to fly He'd have given us wings. So all flying is flying in the face of nature. It's unnatural, wicked and stuffed with risks all the time. The secret to flying is learning to minimize the risks."
"Or perhaps — the secret of life is to choose your risks?"

— Gavin Lyall, Shooting Script, 1966.

I owned the world that hour as I rode over it—. free of the earth, free of the mountains, free of the clouds, but how inseparably I was bound to them.

— Charles A. Lindbergh, on flying above the Rocky Mountains, quoted by Leonard Mosley in Lindbergh, 1978.

If the heavens be penetrable, and no lets, it were not amiss to make wings and fly up, and some new-fangled wits should some time or other find out.

— Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621.

The very existence of aviation is proof that man, given the will, has the capacity to accomplish deeds that seem impossible.

— Eddie Rickenbacker, Rickenbacker: An Autobiography, 1967.

Earthbound souls know only the underside of the atmosphere in which they live . . . but go higher - above the dust and water vapor - and the sky turns dark until one can see the stars at noon.

— Jacqueline Cochran

We thought humble and proud at the same time, all at once in love again with this painful bittersweet lovely thing called flight.

— Richard Bach, A Gift of Wings, 1974

Flying prevails whenever a man and his airplane are put to a test of maximum performance.

— Richard Bach, A Gift of Wings, 1974

Fighter pilot is an attitude. It is cockiness. It is aggressiveness. It is self-confidence. It is a streak of rebelliousness, and it is competitiveness. But there's something else - there's a spark. There's a desire to be good. To do well; In the eyes of your peers, and in your own mind.

I think it is love of that blue vault of sky that becomes your playground if, and only if, you are a fighter pilot. You don't understand it if you fly from A to B in straight and level, and merely climb and descend. You're moving through the basement of that bolt of blue.

A fighter pilot is a man in love with flying. A fighter pilot sees not a cloud but beauty. Not the ground but something remote from him, something that he doesn't belong to as long as he is airborne. He's a man who wants to be second-best to no one.

— Brigadier General Robin Olds, USAF.

As a young boy dreaming of becoming an airman, if I had a choice between becoming chief of staff of the Air force or becoming a fighter ace, I would have chosen to become a fighter ace.

— General Thomas White, USAF Chief of Staff, 1973.

You never lose the buzz of flying. Every time you take off, it feels a bit naughty, as if you’re doing something humans shouldn’t really do.

— Matt Jones, Managing Director of Boultbee Flight Academy, the only Spitfire school in the world. August 2011.

Why fly? Simple. I'm not happy unless there's some room between me and the ground.

— Richard Bach, A Gift of Wings, 1974.

Don't let the fear of falling keep you from knowing the joy of flight.

— Lane Wallace, Flying magazine, January 2001.

Flying has changed how we imagine our planet, which we have seen whole from space, so that even the farthest nations are ecological neighbors. It has changed our ideas about time. When you can gird the earth at 1,000 m.p.h., how can you endure the tardiness of a plumber? Most of all, flying has changed our sense of our body, the personal space in which we live, now elastic and swift. I could be in Bombay for afternoon tea if I wished. My body isn't limited by its own weaknesses; it can rush through space.

— Diane Ackerman, 'Traveling Light,' op-ed in the New York Times, 11 January 1997.

I used to have dreams when I was a kid that I'd go running down the street and jump up in the air and go flying and just fly through the air all by myself. That—s what weightlessness is like.

— Robert Gibson.

In the case of pilots, it is a little touch of madness that drive us to go beyond all known bounds. Any search into the unknown is an incomparable exploitation of oneself.

— Jacqueline Auriol

The spacious firmament on high,
And all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great Original proclaim.

— Joseph Addison, The Spectator, 465, Ode

Oh! `darkly, deeply, beautifully blue',
As someone somewhere sings about the sky.

— George Gordon, Lord Byron, Don Juan, IV. 110

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

Though, as he was torn into a pink upper air, she was a good craft to ride in, for her belly was firm and her breasts enabled a flying man good hold and emotions of heady safety. . . . Steering her peasant tits he bounded off stars.

— Thomas Keneally, Blood Red, Sister Rose: A Novel of the Maid of Orleans

They say it's better than sex.  It's so much better.  It's amazing.

— Angelina Jolie, pilot and actress, regards flying, reported in In Touch Weekly magazine, 4 July 2005 (and repeated on the TV show In The Actor's Studio).

Flying is like sex - I've never had all I wanted but occasionally I've had all I could stand.

— Stephen Coonts, The Cannibal Queen

Buddy of mine once told me that he'd rather fly a jet than kiss his girl. Said it gave him more of a kick.

— Jerry Connell, in the 1951 movie Air Cadet

Flight is romance - not in the sense of sexual attraction, but as an experience that enriches life.

— Stephen Coonts, The Cannibal Queen 1988.

I have often said that the lure of flying is the lure of beauty. That the reasons flyers fly, whether they know it or not, is the aesthetic appeal of flying.

— Amelia Earhart.

One cannot look at the sea without wishing for the wings of a swallow.

— Sir Richard Burton

It had never gotten old for him, flying. Never gone boring. Every engine start was a new adventure, guiding the spirit of a lovely machine back into life; every takeoff blending his spirit with its own to do what's never been done in history, to lift away from the ground and fly."

— Richard Bach, Hypnotizing Maria, 2009

Flyers have a sense of adventures yet to come, instead of dimly recalling adventures of long ago as the only moments in which they truly lived.

— Richard Bach, A Gift of Wings, 1974.

In our dreams we are able to fly . . . and that is a remembering of how we were meant to be.

— Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.

In order to invent the airplane you must have at least a thousand years' experience dreaming of angels.

— Arnold Rockman

Deftly they opened the brain of a child, and it was full of flying dreams.

— Stanley Kunitz, My Surgeons.

Someday I would like to stand on the Moon, look down through a quarter of a million miles of space and say, "There certainly is a beautiful earth out tonight."

— Lieutenant Colonel William H. Rankin, The Man Who Rode the Thunder.

When old dreams die, new ones come to take their place. God pity a one-dream man.

— Esther Goddard, reading from her late husband's diary to the AP just prior to the launch of Apollo 11.

You are brave. Not brave because you are going to be facing any physical dangers; you are not really going to. I mean brave in another, deeper sense. By being on this flight you have shown that you are willing to explore your own identity to discover what might lie within you. Your human clay has not hardened, and you are also willing to explore your own perceptions of the universe, knowing that you may be forced to set aside many comfortable and cherished assumptions. The idea that you must approach honestly and directly is that flying very dramatically makes the pilot solely responsible for his own life.

— Harry Bauer, The Flying Mystique: Exploring Reality and Self in the Sky, 1980.

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 (Fortunes of War) 1951.

And should I not, had I but known, have flung the machine this way and that, once more to feel it live under my hand, have sported in the sky and laughed and sung, knowing that never after should I feel so free, so sure in hazard, so secure, riding the daylight in the pride of youth? No more horizons wider than Hope! No more the franchise of the sky, the freedom of the blue! No more! Farewell to wings! Down to the little earth!

That distant day had a significance I could not give it then. So we wheeled and came back south towards the city. The Temple of Heaven slipped by underneath, that perfect pattern in its ample park. Then the wide plain ruled to the far horizon. Soon the aerodrome.

Now shut the engines off. Come down and flatten out, feel the long float, and at the given moment pull the stick right home. She's down. Now taxi in. Switch off. It's over - but not quite, for the port engine, just as if it knew, as if reluctant at the last to let me go, kicked, kicked, and kicked again, as overheated engines will, then backfired with an angry snorting: Fool! The best is over ...But I did not hear.

— Cecil Lewis, Sagittarius Rising, 1936, regards flying for the last time a Vickers Vimy over Peking, 1921

So let us raise a cheer ... for the insatiable spirit of Man eager for all new things! What a tale could have been written by that far off man who first saw a tree trunk roll and made a wheel and cart and harnessed in his mare and cracked his whip and drove away to disappear beyond the hill! Or that first man who made a boat and raised a sail and disappeared hull down to unknown shores!
All this is misty in a distant past. The land and sea are long since named and mapped and parcelled out. Only the air and all beyond, the greatest mystery of all, was still unmastered and unknown when I was young. Now we have learned to shuffle about the house and even plan to visit the neighbours. A million starry mansions wink at us as if they knew our hopes and beckon us abroud. All that I shall not see. But at the start, the little lost beginning, I can say of one small part of it: "Here is a witness from my heart and hand and eye of how it was!

— Cecil Lewis in 1965, new preface for Sagittarius Rising.

Before I went to the Mess I made the excuse I wanted to get something out of my aeroplane, and climbed into the cockpit; I did this, however, to be able to say good-bye to the old dear; and I really felt dreadfully sorry to part with her. I get very attached to aeroplanes, and I am one of those people who think that they aren't so inanimate as we are told they are.

— Charles Rumney Samson, A Flight from Cairo to Cape Town and back, 1931.

His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly's wings. At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred. Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction and he learned to think and could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been effortless.

— Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast, 1964.

Fly, dotard, fly!
With thy wise dreams and fables of the sky.

— Alexander Pope, The Odyssey of Homer, book ii.

Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!
O grave! where is thy victory?
O death! where is thy sting?

— Alexander Pope, The Dying Christian to his Soul.

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.

Aviators live by hours, not by days.

— T. H. White, England Have My Bones, 1936.

I would recommend a solo flight to all prospective suicides. It tends to make clear the issue of whether one enjoys being alive or not.

— T. H. White, England Have My Bones, 1936.

Flying is an act of conquest, of defeating the most basic and powerful forces of nature. It unites the violent rage and brute power of jet engines with the infinitesimal tolerances of the cockpit. Airlines take their measurements from the ton to the milligram, from the mile to the millimeter, endowing any careless move - an engine setting, a flap position, a training failure - with the power to wipe out hundreds of lives.

— Thomas Petzinger, Jr. First couple of sentences of the prologue to Hard Landing.

So long as the airlines preserve their magic quality — including, above all, their safety and reliability — they will be guaranteed a significant role in the workings of the world. Science will never digitalize an embrace. Electronics will never convey the wavering eye of a negotiating adversary. Fiber-optic cable can do many things, but it cannot transport hot sand, fast snow, or great ruins.

— Thomas Petzinger, Jr., Hard Landing.

I've got the greatest job in the world. Northwest sends me to New York ten times a month to have dinner. I've just got to take 187 people with me whenever I go.

— Colin Soucy, Northwest Airlines pilot.

The great bird will take its first flight . . . filling the world with amazement and all records with its fame, and it will bring eternal glory to the nest where it was born.

— Leonardo da Vinci

A sky as pure as water bathed the stars and brought them out.

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, first sentence of Southern Mail, 1929.

I will fly in the greatness of God as the marsh-hen flies,
In the freedom that fills all the space 'twixt the marsh and the skies.

— Sidney Lanier, American poet, in the poem The Marshes of Glynn.

The highest art form of all is a human being in control of himself and his airplane in flight, urging the spirit of a machine to match his own.

— Richard Bach, A Gift Of Wings, 1974.

It is not enough to just ride this earth. You have to aim higher, try to take off, even fly. It is our duty.

— Jose Yacopi, Argentine Luthier.

The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.

— Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. In original German, "Je hoeher wir fliegen, desto kleiner erscheinen wir fuer diejenigen die nicht fliegen koennen."

To fly as fast as thought, you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived.

— Richard Bach

What freedom lies in flying, what Godlike power it gives to men . . . I lose all consciousness in this strong unmortal space crowded with beauty, pierced with danger.

— Charles A. Lindbergh

Flying might not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.

— Amelia Earhart

Take possession of the air, submit the elements, penetrate the last redoubts of nature, make space retreat, make death retreat.

— Romain Rolland, 1912.

The air is the most mysterious, the most exciting, the most challenging of all the elements. We leave the planet, we leave the sea, we leave the earth. The air is no longer of this world . . .

— David Beaty

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

Flight is the only truly new sensation than men have achieved in modern history.

— James Dickey, New York Times Book Review, 15 July 1979.

How many more years I shall be able to work on the problem I do not know; I hope, as long as I live. There can be no thought of finishing, for 'aiming at the stars' both literally and figuratively, is a problem to occupy generations, so that no matter how much progress one makes, there is always the thrill of just beginning.

— Robert H. Goddard, in a 1932 letter to H. G. Wells.

I think it is a pity to lose the romantic side of flying and simply to accept it as a common means of transport, although that end is what we have all ostensibly been striving to attain.

— Amy Johnson, Sky Roads of the World, 1939.

Aeronautics confers beauty and grandeur, combining art and science for those who devote themselves to it. . . . The aeronaut, free in space, sailing in the infinite, loses himself in the immense undulations of nature. He climbs, he rises, he soars, he reigns, he hurtles the proud vault of the azure sky . . .

— Georges Besançon, founder of the first successful aviation journal L'Aérophile, February 1902.

Live thy life as it were spoil and pluck the joys that fly.

— Martial, Epigrams, A.D. 86.

Those who are able to walk on stilts can roam the earth unstopped by mountains or rivers. They are able to imagine flying and therefore reach the isles of the immortals.

— P'ao-Pou Tseu

The sea is dangerous and its storms terrible, but these obstacles have never been sufficient reason to remain ashore. . . . Unlike the mediocre, intrepid spirits seek victory over those things that seem impossible. . . . It is with an iron will that they embark on the most daring of all endeavors. . . . to meet the shadowy future without fear and conquer the unknown.

— Ferdinand Magellan, c. 1520.

Aviation will give new nourishment to the religious sprit of mankind. It will add airspace to those other great heighteners of the cosmic mood: the wood, the sea, the desert.

— Christian Morgenstern

These bright roofs, these steep towers, these jewel-lakes, these skeins of railroad line — all spoke to her and she answered. She was glad they were there. She belonged to them and they to her. . . . She had not lost it. She was touching it with her fingertips. This was flying: to go swiftly over the earth you loved, touching it lightly with your fingertips, holding the railroads lines in your hand to guide you, like a skein of wool in a spider-web game — like following Ariadne's thread through the Minotaur's maze, Where would it lead, where?

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, The Steep Ascent, 1944.

How do you like your coffee, Captain - cream & sugar?'
We are at 30 west, the half-way point between the European & North American continents, & the stewardess in charge of the forward galley is looking after her aircrew during a pause in serving the passengers' meals.
Mach 2. On autopilot, eleven miles high, moving at 23 miles a minute. Nearly twice as high as Mount Everest, faster than a rifle bullet leaving its barrel. The side windows are hot to the touch, from friction of the passing air. Despite the speed we can talk without raising our voices.
"Milk, please, & no sugar".

— Brian Calvert, the opening paragraphs of Flying Concorde, 1982.

It is not unreasonable to look upon Concorde as a miracle.

— Brian Trubshaw, Concorde Chief Test Pilot, 1967.

Concorde is like a great wine; you dream of it beforehand, you savor it while drinking, and remember it for the rest of your life.

Philippe Faure-Brac, voted world's best wine steward, 1992.

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 don't understand these people anymore, that travel the commuter-trains to their dormitory towns. These people that call themselves human, but, by a pressure they do not feel, are forced to do their work like ants. With what do they fill their time when they are free of work on their silly little Sundays?
I am very fortunate in my profession. I feel like a farmer, with the airstrips as my fields. Those that have once tasted this kind of fare will not forget it ever. Not so, my friends? It is not a question of living dangerously. That formula is too arrogant, too presumptuous. I don't care much for bull-fighters. It's not the danger I love. I know what I love. It is life itself.

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939.

And if flying, like a glass-bottomed bucket, can give you that vision, that seeing eye, which peers down on the still world below the choppy waves — it will always remain magic.

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, North to the Orient, 1935.

My highway is unfeatured air,
My consorts are the sleepless Stars.

— William Ellery CZhanning, Hymn of the Earth.

As we got further and further away, it [the Earth] dimished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful you can imagine. That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart. Seeing this has to change a man.

— James B. Irwin, Apollo 15.

It may be that the invention of the aeroplane flying-machine will be deemed to have been of less material value to the world than the discovery of Bessemer and open-hearth steel, or the perfection of the telegraph, or the introduction of new and more scientific methods in the management of our great industrial works. To us, however, the conquest of the air, to use a hackneyed phrase, is a technical triumph so dramatic and so amazing that it overshadows in importance every feat that the inventor has accomplished. If we are apt to lose our sense of proportion, it is not only because it was but yesterday that we learned the secret of the bird, but also because we have dreamed of flying long before we succeeded in ploughing the water in a dug-out canoe. From Icarus to the Wright Brothers is a far cry.

— Waldemar Kaempffert, The New Art of Flying, 1910.

To fly! to live as airmen live! Like them to ride the skyways from horizon to horizon, across rivers and forests! To free oneself from the petty disputes of everyday life, to be active, to feel the blood renewed in one's vein — ah! that is life. . . . Life in finer and simpler. My will is freer. I appreciate everything more, sunlight and shade, work and my friends. The sky is vast. I breathe deep gulps of the fine clear air of the heights. I feel myself to have achieved a higher state of physical strength and a clearer brain. I am living in the third dimension!

— Henri Mignoet, L'Aviation de L'Amateur; Le Sport de l'Air, 1934.

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.

The helicopter is probably the most versatile instrument ever invented by man. It approaches closer than any other to fulfillment of mankind's ancient dreams of the flying horse and the magic carpet.

— Igor Ivanovitch Sikorsky, comment on 20th anniversary of the helicopter's first flight, 13 September 1959.

Any pilot can describe the mechanics of flying. What it can do for the spirit of man is beyond description.

— Barry M. Goldwater, US senator.

Pilots take no special joy in walking. Pilots like flying.

— Neil Armstrong

Many wonderful inventions have surprised us during the course of the last century and the beginning of this one. But most were completely unexpected and were not part of the old baggage of dreams that humanity carries with it. Who had ever dreamed of steamships, railroads, or electric light? We welcomed all these improvements with astonished pleasure; but they did not correspond to an expectation of our spirit or a hope as old as we are: to overcome gravity, to tear ourselves away from the earth, to become lighter, to fly away, to take possession of the immense aerial kingdom; to enter the universe of the Gods, to become Gods ourselves.

— Jerome Tharaud, 'Dans le ciel des dieux,' in Les Grandes Conferences de l'aviation: Recits et souvenirs, 1934.

 



 

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