Aviation is one of the most fascinating and awe-inspiring aspects of life. There are few things in life that can match the sense of wonder one feels when flying through the sky.
From the pioneering days of flight to the modern era of jets and spacecraft, the world of aviation is rich with passion, determination, and a relentless pursuit of the extraordinary. In the face of challenges and triumphs, aviators and aviation enthusiasts have shared their wisdom, experiences, and insights, leaving behind a treasure trove of inspirational quotes. These words have the power to ignite the fire within, motivating and inspiring all who embark on their aviation journey.
In aviation’s intriguing history, there have been many people who have shaped the industry with their words and deeds. People we as pilots, aviation enthusiasts, and aviation fans can learn from. Some of the most inspirational aviation quotes come from some of the most influential people in history. Some world-famous, others not so much.
But one thing is for sure: to this day, those pioneers and their quotes still offer plenty of motivational value to help you achieve your flying or personal goals.
In this article, we present the 100 best aviation quotes, carefully selected to uplift and encourage both student pilots and aviation enthusiasts, as they soar towards their dreams. So, fasten your seatbelts, open your minds, and let these words of wisdom fuel your aviation aspirations.
The 100 Best Aviation Quotes of All Times
1. “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
This might be one of the most well-known aviation quotes there are. It’s contributed to Leonardo Da Vinci, but it’s still not 100% certain this is a genuine Da Vinci quote, according to Dave English:
“This must be the most famous aviation quote that is not a verifiable quote. It is attributed everywhere (including some Smithsonian publications and the Washington Post) to Leonardo da Vinci, but I’ve never found definitive source information. Neither did some nice folks I talked with at ‘National Geographic Magazine,’ who contacted one of the world’s leading Leonardo authorities in Italy as part of a long research process and were told that Leonardo da Vinci did not write it.”
2. “The Wright brothers created the single greatest cultural force since the invention of writing.” – Tom Wolfe
3. “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that aircraft take off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford
4. “The airplane stays up because it doesn’t have the time to fall.” – Orville Wright
5. “The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who…looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space…on the infinite highway of the air.” – Wilbur Wright
6. “There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror.” – Orson Welles
7. “The airplane is the closest thing to real magic that we have.” – Charles Lindbergh
This qyote beautifully captures the awe and wonder that aviation instills in us. It highlights the sheer marvel of defying gravity, traversing vast distances, and witnessing the world from above. Lindbergh’s words remind us of the extraordinary nature of flight, where science and innovation merge to create a sense of enchantment and limitless possibilities.
8. “The engine is the heart of an airplane, but the pilot is its soul.” – Anonymous
In your flight training and career, you will make a lot of bad landings. Don’t pray you won’t, you just will. However, there is one general rule that applies to every landing:
9. “If you can walk away from a landing, it’s a good landing. If you can use the aircraft the next day, it’s an outstanding landing.” – Chuck Yeager
10. “If you’re ever faced with a forced landing, fly the thing as far into the crash as possible.” – Bob Hoover
11. “Flying is the second best thrill to cheering; it’s like lead without the pencil.” – George Lucas
12. “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Anonymous
13. “There’s no such thing as a routine flight.” – Chesley B. Sullenberger
14. “Until you spread your wings, you have no idea how far you’ll fly.” – Anonymous
If you don’t try, you will never know what you are capable of achieving. Go for it, the least you could do is try it. Fail a few times, fall down every now and then, but get up on your feet again, take the controls and fly like you’ve never flown before (in a positive way that is).
15. “A pilot who says he has never been frightened in an airplane is, I’m afraid, lying.” – Louise Thaden
16. “The pilot who teaches himself has a fool for a student.” – Anonymous
17. “Try to learn from the mistakes of others. You won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” – Anonymous
Think you were not born to become a pilot? You might be wrong. Great pilots are made, not born:
18. “Great pilots are made not born… A man may possess good eyesight, sensitive hands, and perfect coordination, but the end result is only fashioned by steady coaching, much practice, and experience.” – Anonymous
19. “Don’t be a show-off. Never be too proud to turn back. There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots.” – Anonymous
20. “Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.” – Anonymous
This quote, sometimes used in a humorous way to lighten the mood after a less-than-perfect landing, acknowledges the inherent risks and uncertainties of aviation. It recognizes that not every landing will be flawless or picture-perfect, but as long as everyone emerges safely, it can still be considered a positive outcome.
21. “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
22. “The airplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
23. “And 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.” – Elrey Borge Jeppesen
24. “If you’re ever faced with a forced landing at night, turn on the landing lights to see the landing area. If you don’t like what you see, turn’ em back off.” – Anonymous
25. “There are three qualities which are essential to a pilot: imagination, courage and physical fitness. If he lacks one of these, he is worthless.” – Erroll Boyd
26. “There are three simple rules for making a smooth landing. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” – Anonymous
27. “Flying is hours and hours of boredom sprinkled with a few seconds of sheer terror.” – Anonymous
28. “If God meant man to fly, He would have given us more money.” – Anonymous
29. “In the ongoing battle between objects made of aluminum going hundreds of miles per hour and the ground going zero miles per hour, the ground has yet to lose.” – Anonymous
30. “In flying, you need at least two of these three to stay alive: altitude, speed or brains.” – Anonymous
31. “If an airplane is still in one piece, don’t cheat on it; ride the bastard down.” – Ernest K. Gann, author & aviator
32. “You can be a pilot without an airplane, but you cannot fly an airplane without a pilot.” – Anonymous
Although one may argue that point in 2023, with the increased popularity of UAVs.
33. “It’s better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.” – Anonymous
34. “Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man… Landing is the first” – Anonymous
35. “I think it is a pity to lose the romantic side of flying and simply to accept it as a common means of transport.” – Amy Johnson
36. “The good thing about flying solo is it’s never boring.” – Steve Fossett
This quote encapsulates the exhilaration and adventure of taking to the skies alone. It highlights the freedom and excitement that comes with being solely responsible for one’s flight path and decisions. This quote speaks to the constant stimulation and sense of discovery that accompanies flying solo, where every moment presents an opportunity for learning and growth. Fossett’s words capture the unique joy found in the solitude of the cockpit, where one can truly embrace the thrill of aviation.
37. “More than anything else, the sensation of flying 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
38. “Everyone has oceans to fly, if they have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?” – Amelia Earhart
39. “You know you’ve achieved perfection in design, not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
40. “There is no way to become a perfect pilot; it’s just a matter of survival until you get there.” – Chuck Yeager
41. “Every flyer who ventures across oceans to distant lands is a potential explorer; in his or her breast burns the same fire that urged adventurers of old to set forth in their sailing-ships for foreign lands.” – Jean Batten
42. “Sometimes you have to go up really high to see how small you are.” – Felix Baumgartner
43. “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
44. “Flying might not be all smooth sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.” – Amelia Earhart
45. “The three best things in life are a good landing, a good orgasm, and a good bowel movement. The night carrier landing is one of the few opportunities in life where you get to experience all three at the same time.” – Admiral William Harris, USN
46. “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” – Beverly Pepper
47. “If you want to be a pilot, it’s not just about flying the airplane, it is living the life.” – Chesley B. Sullenberger
48. “In soloing – as in other activities – it is far easier to start something than it is to finish it.” – Amelia Earhart
49. “You haven’t seen a tree until you’ve seen its shadow from the sky.” – Amelia Earhart
45. “If you want to fly, give up everything that weighs you down.” – Toni Morrison
51. “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” – Amelia Earhart
52. ” There is no greater thrill than to be up in the air and know that you have done it yourself.” – Wilbur Wright
53. “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford
54. “We all live in the air, but we don’t all know it.” – Pina Colada
55. “Life is a journey, not a destination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
56. “The journey, not the destination matters.” – T.S. Eliot
57. “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Les Brown
58. “To Infinity and Beyond!” – Buzz Lightyear
59. “Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” – Douglas Adams
60. “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” – Mary Poppins
61. “It’s better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.” – Anonymous
62. “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.” – Anonymous
63. “The sky is not the limit. There are footprints on the moon.” – Anonymous
64. “Don’t let your fear of what could happen make nothing happen.” – Anonymous
65. Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground who can’t do anything about it.” – Anonymous
66. “In flying I have learned that carelessness and overconfidence are usually far more dangerous than deliberately accepted risks.” – Wilbur Wright
67. “If you want to become a better pilot, fly with someone who is better than you are.” – Anonymous
68. “There is no such thing as a natural-born pilot.” – Chenghiz Khan
69. “Pilots take no special joy in walking: pilots like flying.” – Neil Armstrong
70. “The time to worry is when there is nothing left to worry about.” – Chesley B. Sullenberger
71. “You know you’ve landed with the wheels up when it takes full power to taxi to the ramp.” – Robert A. Heinlein
72. “There is no failing in flying, only lessons for the next flight.” – Anonymous
73. “Never fly in the same cockpit with someone braver than you.” – Anonymous
74. “Of all the things that could go wrong, going wrong is what we worry about most.” – Anonymous
75. “The only time you have too much fuel is when you’re on fire.” – Anonymous
76. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
77. “The emergencies you train for almost never happen. It’s the one you can’t train for that kills you.” – Ernest K. Gann
78. “In flying, the probability of survival is inversely proportional to the angle of arrival.” – Neil Armstrong
79. “Never quit. Never give up. Fly it to the end.” – Chuck Aaron
80. “Flight is romance – not in the sense of sexual attraction, but as an experience that enriches life.” – Stephen Coonts
81. “The engine is the heart of an aeroplane, but the pilot is its soul.” – Walter Alexander Raleigh
82. “I’ve never known an industry that can get into people’s blood the way aviation does.” – Robert Six
83. “Why fly? Simple. I’m not happy unless there’s some room between me and the ground.” ~ Richard Bach
84. “Mistakes are inevitable in aviation, especially when one is still learning new things. The trick is to not make the mistake that will kill you.” ~ Stephen Coonts
85. “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
86. “Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
87. “It’s the most exciting thing you have ever done with your pants on!” ~ Stephen Coonts”
88. “The way I see it, you can either work for a living or you can fly airplanes. Me, I’d rather fly.” ~ Len Morgan
Expressed by Len Morgan, this quote encapsulates the passion and fulfillment found in pursuing a career in aviation. Morgan’s words inspire aspiring pilots to prioritize their dreams and pursue a profession that brings them immense joy and satisfaction in the skies above.
89. “It is hard enough for anyone to map out a course of action and stick to it, particularly in the face of the desires of one’s friends; but it is doubly hard for an aviator to stay on the ground waiting for just the right moment to go into the air.” ~ Glenn Curtiss
90. “Never fly anything that doesn’t have the paint worn off the rudder Pedals.” ~ Bill Harry
91. “The quality of the box matters little. Success depends upon the man who sits in it.” ~ Manfred von Richthofen
92. “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
93. “I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This quote reveals the ability of aviation to free the mind from the burdens and trivialities of daily life. It signifies the escape from mundane concerns, offering a sense of freedom and clarity in the vastness of the sky. Saint-Exupery’s words convey the therapeutic and meditative aspects of flying, providing a respite from the complexities of the world and allowing one to find solace and peace in the heavens above.
94. ” Aviation is proof that given, the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible.” – Edward Rickenbacker
95. “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
96. “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.” – Anonymous
97. “The only mystery in life is why the kamikaze pilots wore helmets.” – Al McGuire
98. “You’ve never been lost until you’ve been lost at Mach 3.” – Paul F. Crickmore
99. “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.” – Anonymous
This quote reminds us that while luck may play a role in our endeavors, it is through accumulating knowledge, skills, and wisdom that we truly thrive. It encourages a proactive approach to learning, urging us to continuously seek opportunities for growth and development in order to make the most of the luck we are granted.
100. “A fool and his money are soon flying more aircraft than he can handle.” – Anonymous
Some final words
As we conclude this journey through the 100 best aviation quotes, we hope that these words have ignited a spark within you, fueling your passion for aviation and inspiring you to reach new heights. From the sheer beauty of flight to the indomitable spirit of aviation pioneers, from overcoming challenges to embracing the joy of flying, these quotes encompass the essence of the aviation world. They remind us of the importance of continuous learning, safety, teamwork, and the pursuit of dreams.
May these quotes be your compass, helping you navigate the skies with courage, determination, and a deep love for the wonders of flight. Embrace the future possibilities of aviation, let your imagination soar, and always remember that the sky is not the limit – it’s just the beginning. Bon voyage on your aviation endeavors, and may you find inspiration in these quotes to make your dreams take flight.