Flying Laughs and Jokes

The funny ha-ha hee-hee part of my flying quotes collection. Starting with a short blast of close-to-home chuckles:

My first wife didn’t like to fly, either.

Gordon Baxter, long-time writer for Flying magazine. Heard by your humble scribe at Oshkosh. Guessing middle of the 1990’s.

That wasn’t flying, that was falling with style.

Woody, regards Buzz Lightyear. from the 1996 movie Toy Story. Original Story by John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Joe Ranft. Final 1995 screenplay by Joss Whedon, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow.

The other toys were more impressed. "Oh, wow! You flew magnificently!" (Rex) "The dolls must really go for you!" (Mr. Potato Head).

Falling With Style

There is an art … to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

Douglas Adams, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy, 1978. I’ve got the whole passage online.

Of all things that Lindbergh’s great feat demonstrated, the greatest was to show us that a person could still get the entire front page without murdering anybody.

Will Rogers, syndicated newspaper column, 22 May 1927.

Herald Tribune newspaper

We wanted flying cars. Instead we got 140 characters.

Peter Thiel, billionaire Silicon Valley investor, regards technology producing social platforms not real stuff. Speech at Yale University, 16 April 2013.

Every time I fly and am forced to remove my shoes, I’m grateful Richard Reid is not known as the Underwear Bomber.

Douglas Manuel, aerospace executive regards airport security. Reported in USA Today, 13 March 2003.

Landing on the ship during the daytime is like sex, it’s either good or it’s great. Landing on the ship at night is like a trip to the dentist, you may get away with no pain, but you just don’t feel comfortable.

LCDR Thomas Quinn, USN.

Older I Get

Flying a plane is no different from riding a bicycle. It’s just a lot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes.

Captain Rex Kramer, in the 1980 movie Airplane!

We have clearance, Clarence. Roger, Roger. What’s our vector, Victor?

Cockpit crew in the 1980 movie Airplane!

In a moment of quiet reflection, they’ll concede that the other brand is a broken down piece of crap that never should have gotten loose from the factory.

Aviation Consumer magazine, on the rivalry between Mooney and Bonanza owners, December 1999.

The odds against there being a bomb on a plane are a million to one, and against two bombs a million times a million to one. Next time you fly, cut the odds and take a bomb.

Benny Hill

The strength of the turbulence is directly proportional to the temperature of your coffee.

Gunter’s Second Law of Air Travel

Why Houdy

When the weight of the paper equals the weight of the airplane, only then you can go flying.

Attributed to Donald Douglas (Mr. DC-n).

The bulk of mankind is as well equipped for flying as thinking.

Jonathon Swift, Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting, 1727.

Which is now a more hopeful statement than Swift intended it to be.

Will Durant, regards Swift, The Age of Louis XIV, 1963.

If Beethoven had been killed in a plane crash at the age of 22, it would have changed the history of music … and of aviation.

Attributed to Tom Stoppard.

The three worst things to hear in the cockpit:
The second officer says, “Oh shit!"
The first officer says, “I have an idea!"
The captain say, “Hey, watch this!"


Happiness Comes From

My definition of an optimist has to be the Luftwaffe F-104 pilot who gave up smoking!

John Wiley

I just whip out my blue card with a hole in it and read what it says: “When color of card matches color of sky, FLY!”

Gordon Baxter, in response to how he checked the weather.

Instrument flying, I had concluded, is an unnatural act, probably punishable by God.

Gordon Baxter, Flying Magazine, August 1974.


When I grow up I want to be a pilot because it's a fun job and easy to do. That's why there are so many pilots flying around these days.

Pilots don’t need much school. They just have to learn to read numbers so they can read their instruments.

I guess they should be able to read a road map, too.

Pilots should be brave to they won’t get scared it it’s foggy and they can’t see, or if a wing or motor falls off.

Pilots have to have good eyes to see through the clouds, and they can’t be afraid of thunder or lightning because they are much closer to them than we are.

The salary pilots make is another thing I like. They make more money than they know what to do with. This is because most people think that flying a plane is dangerous, except pilots don’t because they know how easy it is.

I hope I don’t get airsick because I get carsick and if I get airsick, I couldn’t be a pilot and then I would have to go to work.

Purported to have been written by a fifth grade student at Jefferson School, Beaufort, SC. It was first published in the South Carolina Aviation News.

Arguing with a pilot is like wrestling with a pig in the mud, after a while you begin to think the pig likes it.

Seen on a General Dynamics bulletin board. It was Mark Twain who said, “Never try and teach a pig to sing. It’s a waste of your time, and it annoys the pig.”

Say … what’s a mountain goat doing way up here in a cloud bank?

Gary Larson, The Far Side cartoon, first published 2 February 1983.

Mountain goat

Nothing said I had to crash.

R. A. 'Bob' Hoover, after hitting a telephone wire and losing two feet of wing in his P-51.

Doctor Rumack: “When are we going to be able to land?
Ted Striker: “I can't tell.
Doctor Rumack: “You can tell me, I’m a doctor.
Ted Striker: “I don’t know.
Doctor Rumack: “Well, can't you take a guess?
Ted Striker: “Not for another two hours.
Doctor Rumack: “You can't take a guess for another two hours?

from the 1980 movie 'Airplane.'

Ted: “We’re gonna have to come in pretty low on this approach.
Elaine: “Is that difficult?
Ted: “Well sure it's difficult. It's part of every textbook approach. It's just something you have to do … when you land.

from the 1982 movie Airplane II, The Sequel.

In the Alaska bush I’d rather have a two hour bladder and three hours of gas than vice versa.

Kurt Wien

You want me to answer you if this old airplane is safe to fly? Just how in the world do you think it got to be this old?


I know, but this guy doing the flying has no airline experience at all. He's a menace to himself and everything else in the air … Yes, birds too.

Air Traffic Controller in the 1980 movie Airplane.

They’re beeping and they’re flashing. they’re flashing and they’re beeping! I cant stand it anymore, they’re blinking and they’re flashing.

Buck Murdock, in the 1982 movie Airplane II, The Sequel.

Teach a man to fly

Both optimists and pessimists contribute to the society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.

George Bernard Shaw

The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage.

Mark Russell

People think it would be fun to be a bird because you could fly. But they forget the negative side, which is the preening.

Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts from Saturday Night Lve.'

You know they invented wheelbarrows to teach FAA inspectors to walk on their hind legs.

Marty Caidin

The light at the end of the tunnel is another airplanes landing light coming down head-on to the runway you are taking off from.

Robert Livingston, Flying The Aeronca.

If helicopters are so safe, how come there are no vintage/classic helicopter fly-ins?


What is that mountain goat doing way up here in the clouds?

Gary Larson, in a well-known Farside cartoon.

Death is just nature's way of telling you to watch your airspeed.


Buttons … check. Dials … check. Switches … check. Little colored lights … check.

Calvin, Cavin and Hobbes.

Leader, bandits at 2 o'clock!
Roger; it's only 1:30 now — what'll I do 'til then?

The Bill Waterson comic character Calvin, in Cavin and Hobbes.

Nicola letter to captain

It only takes five years to go from rumor to standard operating procedure.

Dick Markgraf

Real planes use only a single stick to fly. This is why bulldozers & helicopters — in that order — need two.

Paul Slattery

I’ve flown every seat on this airplane, can someone tell me why the other two are always occupied by idiots?

Don Taylor

Somebody said that carrier pilots were the best in the world, and they must be or there wouldn't be any of them left alive.

Ernie Pyle

When it comes to testing new aircraft or determining maximum performance, pilots like to talk about “pushing the envelope.” they’re talking about a two dimensional model: the bottom is zero altitude, the ground; the left is zero speed; the top is max altitude; and the right, maximum velocity, of course. So, the pilots are pushing that upper-right-hand corner of the envelope. What everybody tries not to dwell on is that that's where the postage gets canceled, too.

Admiral Rick Hunter, U.S. Navy.

High-performance jet fighter, fully armed with missiles, guns. ECM equipment, fresh paint (stars and bars painted over), single seat, 97% reliability rate, will outclimb, outturn F-16, outrun F-14, low fuel burn (relatively), all digital avionics, radar, terrain following, INS, GPS, Tacan, used only for testing and sales promotion. Now in storage.
Contact Northrop Corp. Will trade for Mig-25 and home address of Air Force Acquisition officer.

Ad placed in Pacific Flyer magazine, shortly after the F-20 program was cancelled.

Flying an aeroplane with only a single propeller to keep you in the air. Can you imagine that?

Captain Picard, in episode Booby Trap, Star Trek: The Next Generation..

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, loose a cylinder and stall out!

Ernest K. Gann

I don’t like flying because I’m afraid of crashing into a large mountain. I don’t think Dramamine is going to help.

Lt. Daniel Kaffie, played by Tom Cruise, in the 1992 movie A Few Good Men. Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin.

[Flying is] more thilling than than love for a man and far less dangerous.

Thea Rasche, known as the Flying Fräulein, c. 1935. Quoted in the 1986 book Women of the Air.

You know the part in High Flight where it talks about putting out your hand to touch the face of God? Well, when we’re at speed and altitude in the SR, we have to slow down and descend in order to do that.

Lt. Col. Gil Bertelson, SR-71 pilot, in SR-71 Blackbird: Stories, Tales and Legends, 2002.

Newton’s Law states that what goes up, must come down. Our Company Commander’s Law states that what goes up and comes down had damn well better be able to go back up again.

Sign in the Operations Office of the 187th Assault Helicopter Company, Tay Ninh, Viet Nam, 1971.

I never liked riding in helicopters because there's a fair probability that the bottom part will get going around as fast as the top part.

Lt. Col. John Wittenborn, USAFR.

I do not use airplanes. They strike me as unsporting. You can have an automobile accident — and survive. You can be on a sinking ship — and survive. You can be in an earthquake, fire, volcanic eruption, tornado, what you will — and survive. But if your plane crashes, you do not survive. And I say the heck with it.

Isaac Asimov. Quoted in The Traveling Curmudgeon, 2003.

It was 1977 and we were on an old DC8 Air Ceylon coming in to Colombo, Ceylon from Bangkok. The landing approach was pretty bumpy, but the biggest bump was saved for when we hit the tarmac — a massive shudder and shake — at least I hoped it was the runway. We were soon however airborne again and climbing steeply when a voice with a heavy Indian accent came over the PA:

I am sorry about the landing ladies and gentlemen, the pilot will now take over.

Tim Stuart, Great Aviation Quotes reader.

This time up in the Himalayas where we had been stranded for days. Each day we would head down to the airfield only to be told the plane could not take off. Finally on a day the weather was slightly better the chief of police informed us as follows:

The allocated pilot for today is the best pilot in Nepal, don’t worry, he will take the risk.

Tim Stuart, Great Aviation Quotes reader.

Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.

G. K. Chesteron, Orthodoxy, 1908.

Eagles may soar, but weasels never get sucked into jet air intakes


I used to dream about being an astronaut. I just never had the grades. Or the physical endurance. Plus I threw up a lot and nobody liked spending a week with me.

Philip J. Fry, The Series Has Landed episode, Futurama TV show.

Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the drug store, but that’s just peanuts to space.

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Muhammad Ali: Superman don’t need no seat belt.
Flight Attendant: Superman don’t need no airplane, either.

Quoted by Clifton Fadiman, The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes, 1985.

Henry Jones: I didn't know you could fly a plane.
Indiana: Fly yes… land no.

Harrison Ford, in the 1989 movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Hey, everybody — watch this!

every redneck cropduster's last words

This is an especially good time for you vacationers who plan to fly, because the Reagan administration, as part of the same policy under which it recently sold Yellowstone National Park to Wayne Newton, has “deregulated” the airline industry. What this means for you, the consumer, is that the airlines are no longer required to follow any rules whatsoever. They can show snuff movies. They can charge for oxygen. They can hire pilots right out of Vending Machine Refill Person School. They can conserve fuel by ejecting husky passengers over water. They can ram competing planes in mid-air. These innovations have resulted in tremendous cost savings which have been passed along to you, the consumer, in the form of flights with amazingly low fares, such as $29. Of course, certain restrictions do apply, the main one being that all these flights take you to Newark, and you must pay thousands of dollars if you want to fly back out.

Dave Barry, 'Iowa — Land of Secure Vacations.'

As you know, birds do not have sexual organs because they would interfere with flight. [In fact, this was the big breakthrough for the Wright Brothers. They were watching birds one day, trying to figure out how to get their crude machine to fly, when suddenly it dawned on Wilbur. “Orville,” he said, “all we have to do is remove the sexual organs!” You should have seen their original design.] As a result, birds are very, very difficult to arouse sexually. You almost never see an aroused bird. So when they want to reproduce, birds fly up and stand on telephone lines, where they monitor telephone conversations with their feet. When they find a conversation in which people are talking dirty, they grip the line very tightly until they are both highly aroused, at which point the female gets pregnant.

Dave Barry, 'Sex and the Single Amoebae.'

Our headline ran, “Virgin screw British Airways.” we’d have rather preferred 'British Airways screws Virgin,' but we had to run with the facts.

News Editor, The Sun newspaper.

Firewall: (1) The part of the airplane specially designed to allow all heat and exhaust to enter the cockpit. (2) The act of pulling 69 inches of manifold pressure, out of an engine designed to pull 60.

Bob Stevens, 'There I Was.'

If God had meant man to fly, He would never have given us the steam railway locomotive.

A Great Aviation Quotes reader's late great aunt.

If God wanted us to fly, He would have given us tickets.

Mel Brooks

If God had intended man to fly, He would not have invented Spanish Air Traffic Control.

Lister, in the BBC TV series, 'Red Dwarf.'

If God had meant Icarus to fly, she would have given him a cloudy day.

Leon M. Wise

If God had really intended men to fly, He'd make it easier to get to the airport.

George Winters

In the space age, man will be able to go around the world in two hours — one hour for flying and one hour to get to the airport.

Neil McElroy, Look, 1958.

In America there are two classes of travel — first class, and with children.

Robert Benchley

Airline P.A.: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Glasgow, we hope you enjoyed your flight and thank you for flying Easyjet. If you didn't enjoy your flight, thank you for flying Ryanair.

Heard by a Great Aviation Quotes reader, 2005.

Helicopter dictionary defination

Insurer: It was pilot error.
Pilot: It was design error.
Insurer: I disagree. The pilot is at fault for trusting the designer.

Submitted by a Great Aviation Quotes reader, 2000.

Now I know what a dog feels like watching TV.

A DC-9 captain trainee attempting to check out on the glass cockpit A-320.

The entrance to the cockpit of this aircraft is most difficult. It should have been made impossible.

Flight Journal magazine, April 2000, regards the XF10F-1, Grumman's first attempt at a swing wing fighter.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the very first Fokker airplane built in the world. The Dutch call it the mother Fokker.

Custodian at the Aviodome aviation museum, Schiphol airport Amsterdam.

Flight Reservation Systems decide whether or not you exist. If your information isn’t in their database, then you simply don’t get to go anywhere.

Arthur Miller

United hired gentlemen with the expectation of training them to become pilots, Northwest hired pilots hoping to train them to become gentlemen. To date, despite their best efforts, neither carrier can be considered successful.

Ed Thompson

If black boxes survive air crashes — why don’t they make the whole plane out of that stuff?

George Carlin

A military aircraft had gear problems on landing, and as the plane was skidding down the tarmac the tower controller asked if they needed assistance. From the plane came a laconic southern voice:
Dunno — we ain't done crashin' yet.

The most dangerous thing about flying is the risk of starving to death.

Dick Depew

When asked by someone how much money flying takes:
Why, all of it!

Gordon Baxter

For years politicians have promised the Moon. I’m the first one to be able to deliver it.

Richard Nixon, 1969.

A student became lost during a solo cross-country flight. While attempting to locate the aircraft on radar, ATC asks, “What was your last known position?"  The reply:

“When I was number one for takeoff".

Aviation Dictionary

Airspeed: Speed of an airplane. Deduct 25% when listening to a Navy pilot.

Bank: The folks who hold the lien on most pilots' cars.

Cone of Confusion: An area about the size of New Jersey, located near the final approach beacon at an airport.

Crab: The squadron Ops Officer.

Dead Reckoning: You reckon correctly, or you are.

Engine Failure: A condition which occurs when all fuel tanks mysteriously become filled with air.

Firewall: Section of the aircraft specially designed to let heat and smoke enter the cockpit.

Glide Distance: Half the distance from the airplane to the nearest emergency landing field.

Hydroplane: An airplane designed to land on a 20,000 foot long wet runway.

IFR: A method of flying by needle and ripcord.

Lean Mixture: Nonalcoholic beer

Nanosecond: Time delay built into the stall warning system.

Parasitic Drag: A pilot who bums a ride and complains about the service.

Range: Usually about 30 miles beyond the point where all fuel tanks fill with air.

Rich Mixture: What you order at the other guy's promotion party.

Roger: Used when you’re not sure what else to say.

Service Ceiling: Altitude at which cabin crews can serve drinks.

Spoilers: The Federal Aviation Administration.

 Stall - Technique used to explain to the bank why you car payment is late.


P = The problem logged by the pilot.
S = The solution logged by the mechanic.

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: No. 2 propeller seeping prop fluid.
S: No. 2 propeller seepage normal. Nos. 1, 3 and 4 propellers lack normal seepage.

P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on backorder.

P: Autopilot in “altitude-hold” mode produces a 200-fpm descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what they’re there for!

P: Transponder inoperative.
S: Transponder always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: The T/C ball seemed stuck in the middle during my last turn.
S: Congratulations! you’ve just made your first coordinated turn.

P: Suspected crack in windscreen.
S: Suspect you’re right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.

P: Radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed radar with words.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

P: Radio switches stick
S: Peanut butter no longer served to flight crew

P: Screaming sound in cabin at start-up
S: Company accountant deplaned

P: Funny smell in cockpit
S: Pilot told to change cologne

P: Aircraft 2,400 lbs over max weight
S: Aircraft put on diet of 92 octane

P: #3 engine knocks at idle
S: #3 engine let in for a few beers

P: #3 engine runs like it's sick
S: #3 engine diagnosed with hangover

P: Brakes howl on application
S: don’t step on 'em so hard!

P: Radio sounds like a squealing pig
S: Removed pig from radio. BBQ behind hangar tomorrow

P: First class cabin floor has a squeak
S: Co-pilot told not to play with toddler toys in cabin anymore

P: Electrical governor is broke
S: Paid off governor's debt to Jimmy “The Fish” Galvano

P: Air conditioning motor makes a loud squeal like my mother-in-law.
S: recommend divorce

HIGH FLIGHT parodies

Glider Flight

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of rope
A few feet from “The Road".
I whip the Schweitzer 'round so fast
Exceeds the max'mum load.
I’ve slipped, I’ve stalled, I’ve spiral dived,
Spun past the sixth full turn.
“You can't do that!” the new ones say,
they`'ve got a lot to learn.
I find a thermal, turn in it
To try and gain some height.
But I must beat the towplane down
Or this is my last flight!
On 2-3 fly a crooked base
Then crank the plane around.
Or 2-9: pass the hangars then I dive straight for the ground!
But the best is 3-6 final when I know I should be higher,
Put out my hand and touch The passing telephone wire!

ATP High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of gate times
And held rigid by impossible air traffic controllers;
Upward I’ve climbed and joined the congested skies
Of fixes, missed approaches and done hundred things
My passenger did not care for — delays, turbulence, and held
In the holding pattern low on fuel. Waiting there,
I’ve chased the schedules, and flung
Myself against management and union rules.
Up, up the long ascent in seniority list.
I’ve topped and gone to the next aircraft
Hoping that I do not get furloughed.
And, while with worried mind I’ve trod
The difficult sanctity of regulation,
Waiting for the FAA inspector who is God.

Brian Caver, in honor of Phillip Valente, Captain American Eagle Airlines.

Low Flight (1)

Oh! I’ve slipped through the swirling clouds of dust,
   a few feet from the dirt,
I’ve flown the Phantom low enough,
   to make my bottom hurt.
I’ve TFO'd the deserts, hills,
   valleys and mountains too,
Frolicked in the trees,
   where only flying squirrels flew.
Chased the frightened cows along,
   disturbed the ram and ewe,
And done a hundred other things,
   that you'd not care to do.
I’ve smacked the tiny sparrow,
   bluebird, robin, all the rest,
I’ve ingested baby eaglets,
   simply sucked them from their nest!
I’ve streaked through total darkness,
   just the other guy and me,
And spent the night in terror of
   things I could not see.
I’ve turned my eyes to heaven,
   as I sweated through the flight,
Put out my hand and touched,
   the master caution light.


Low Flight (2)

Oh, I’ve slipped the surely bonds of earth
  And hovered out of ground effect on semi-rigid blades;
Earthward I’ve auto'ed and met the rising brush of Non-paved terrain;
  And done a thousand things you would never care to
Skidded and dropped and flared Low in the heat soaked roar.
  Confined there, I’ve chased the earthbound traffic
And lost the race to insignificant Headwinds;
  Forward and up a little in ground effect I’ve topped the General's hedge with drooping turns
Where never Skyhawk or even Phantom flew.
  Shaking and pulling collective,
I’ve lumbered The low untresspassed halls of victor airways,
  Put out my hand and touched a tree.

Low Flight (3)

Oh, I’ve lifted to a hover in a blowing gusty wind.
I’ve chased the tail in circles with a denture ruining grin.
I’ve done my hovering autos and wondered as I rode,
why the helo is so attracted to an out-of-state zip code.
I’ve squeezed the pole and throttle til my arm was puffed and tight,
and studied helo theory books til way late in the night.
I’ve settled with power, and heard instructor's shout,
I have squeezed the cyclic grip so hard the black was oozing out.
Now high flight in the heavens is not a thing I need
for 1000 feet above the ground my nose begins to bleed.
I’ve played and played for hours as I hovered round and round,
while all the time I was flying just a foot above the ground.
I’m sure that drugs are cheaper and easier to acquire,
than the PPL for Helo which is what has lit my fire.
I’ve read the other poem and find it really odd,
that author had the freedom to touch the face of God
'Cause I even have a tight grip on the seat cushion.

Stuart Fields, former publisher of Experimental Helo magazine.

Freightdog's Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of instructing,
  And plowed the skies on ice-laden wings.
Moonward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling turbulence
  Of lightning split clouds - and done a hundred things
The Feds have not dreamed of - scud run, busted mins,
  Flown handheld, homemade approaches. Yawning there,
I’ve chased the impossible schedule, and flung
  y ancient craft through convective sigmets.
Up, up the long over-loaded, over-heating climb,
  I’ve topped the MVAs with red-line power,
Where bats and even owls fly,
  And while with hypothermic, fatigued mind I’ve trod
The complex, congested New York airspace,
  Put out my hand, and touched the de-ice switch.

Name withheld per Freightdog's attorney


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.


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.


Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of my spouse
  And danced the clubs on Kiwi-polished boots;
Moonward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
  Of Moon-split clouds — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — in the Philippines
  High in the domelit silence. Holding there,
I’ve scared the airsick pax, and flung their baggage through footless halls of air.
  Up, up the long, delirious, burning black
I’ve topped the turbulent heights with little grace
  Where never C-130, or even C-5 flew.
And, while with fuzzy, sleep deprived mind I’ve trod
  The high untrespassed sanctity of controlled airspace,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of The Aircraft Commander,
  who thinks he is God.

Rob Robinette

A joke told repeatedly at aviation industry conferences puts a man and a dog in an airplane. The dog is there to bite the pilot if the man so much as tries to touch the controls; the pilot’s one remaining job is to feed the dog. Many aviation veterans have heard the joke so many times that is possible to tell those in the audience new to the industry by their laughter.

Gary Stix, in Scientific American, July 1991.



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