The Magic and Wonder of Flight

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.

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

Neil Armstrong

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

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-Exupry,Wind, Sand, and Stars,’ 1939

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.

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

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.

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


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Razvan Pandele
    May 24, 2010 @ 10:19:51

    asta e lumea in care ma regasesc cu adevarat…abia astept sa ma inscriu la ssavc mai am doar trei ani


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