From the ancient wisdom of Socrates to the dry humor of George Carlin, there are loads of aviation quotes circling the internet.

You’ll find inspirational quotes that remind us of the beauty of flight and of what draws humanity to the skies. These are the quotes for hanging in your office or writing in a congratulations card for a newly certified pilot.

How do pilots view themselves and how does the rest of the world view us? What does it mean to be a pilot? Share these quotes with your spouse.

Can’t skip the funny jokes, and there’s plenty of humor to be had in our profession, so consider this the definitive list of all your best party jokes.

Humor aside, it was only fitting to include the time-honored and sage advice that has been handed down from aviator to aviator.

Inspirational, humorous, wise – they all earned a place on our list of the 30 best aviation quotes. Give it a read and find out if your favorites made the cut.


30 Best Aviation Quotes
1. “When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
– Leonardo DaVinci

2. “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

3. “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

4. “I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

5. “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

6. “Sometimes, flying feels too God-like 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

What it Means to be a Pilot

30 Best Aviation Quotes

7. “Fighter pilots have ice in their veins. They don’t have emotions. They think, anticipate. They know that fear and other concerns cloud your mind from what’s going on and what you should be involved in.”
– Buzz Aldrin

8. “Learning to fly an airplane taught me a way of thinking, an approach to problem-solving that was applicable and effective. Pilots are very methodical and meticulous, and artists tend not to be.”
– Chris Carter

9. “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

10. “Let’s get one thing straight. There’s a big difference between a pilot and an aviator. One is a technician; the other is an artist in love with flight.”

11. “He moves not through distance, but through the ranges of satisfaction that come from hauling himself up into the air with complete and utter control; from knowing himself and knowing his airplane so well that he can come somewhere close to touching, in his own special and solitary way, that thing that is called perfection.”

Common Sayings

12. “A ‘good’ landing is one from which you can walk away. A ‘great’ landing is one after which they can use the plane again.”

13. “Every takeoff is optional. Every landing is mandatory.”

Pilot Humor

30 Best Aviation Quotes

14. “Flying isn’t dangerous. Crashing is what’s dangerous.”

15. “If you push the stick forward, the houses get bigger. If you pull the stick back, they get smaller. That is, unless you keep pulling the stick all the way back, then they get bigger again.”

16. “The propeller is just a big fan in front of the plane used to keep the pilot cool. When it stops, you can actually watch the pilot start sweating.”

17. “Airspeed, altitude, and brains. Two are always needed to successfully complete the flight.”

18. “Lovers of air travel find it exhilarating to hang poised between the illusion of immortality and the fact of death.”
– Alexander Chase

19. “Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.”
– Gil Stern

20. “If black boxes survive air crashes, why don’t they make the whole plane out of that stuff?”
– George Carlin

21. “The only mystery in life is why the kamikaze pilots wore helmets.”
– Al McGuire

22. “What is the similarity between air traffic controllers and pilots? If a pilot screws up, the pilot dies; If ATC screws up, the pilot dies.”

23. “You’ve never been lost until you’ve been lost at Mach 3.”
– Paul F. Crickmore

Words of Wisdom

24. “Learn from the mistakes of others. You won’t live long enough to make all of them yourself.”

25. “You start with a bag full of luck and an empty bag of experience. The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck.”

26. “Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, the experience usually comes from bad judgment.”

27. “There are old pilots and there are bold pilots. However, there are no old, bold pilots.”

28. “Remember, you fly an airplane with you head, not your hands and feet.”

29. “A fool and his money are soon flying more aircraft than he can handle.”

30. “Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground incapable of understanding it.”

So, there you have it – the 30 best aviation quotes of all time with a little dash of everything from inspiration to humor to wisdom sprinkled in.
Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know: Which quotes were your favorites and what would you add to the list?



Ed Kirschner

Ed Kirschner

-“I recently made a mistake and created a serious emergency while flying.
I put the situation in God’s hands.
Turns out God is a crappy pilot too.”

Darlene Bogumil

Darlene Bogumil

I saw an article several years ago in Airline Pilot about a pilot’s last flight – my huSband was a United Airline Capt 25 years & recently passed – would like to have that saying on his gravestone. Does anyone remember it, or know where I could find it?

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