Why do I fly – aviation quotes that help explain the feeling

If you’re a fellow aviator I’m sure you’ve been asked questions like “why do you fly”, “but don’t you get scared”, “why don’t you do something cheaper” or “how come you enjoy being up there so much”.

It’s sometimes hard to put into words the feeling you get being up there, but I recently heard two quotes that help illustrate how it makes me feel:
  • “When you get up there and you fly around, everything is so beautiful. It’s just wonderful like that. And then, while you’re up there, you forget about your problems while you’re up. You’ve still got ’em, but that doesn’t matter, you’ve had a little rest from it.” Evelyn Bryan Johnson (or ‘Mama Bird’ as she was affectionately known)

I love this one because regardless of who you are, everyone has their own set of problems on the ground be they financial, personal or professional. But when you’re in command of an aircraft and focussing on the job in hand those problems are (or should be) completely removed from your head.

The action of following procedures and solving problems to ensure each sortie is completed safely takes up all of my brainpower not really giving me a chance to worry about anything that’s happening below me on ground level. So I completely agree with ‘Mama Bird’ and love the way that for me aviation replaces the frustrating and problematic with something very beautiful and unique.

And secondly, an older one:

  • “I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person” Oscar Wilde

I’m not just quoting this in relation to solo flights, I believe that even when flying with an instructor or passengers you still spend components of the flight ‘alone’. Obviously when flying with others operating as a team is critical, but I find for any flight if I am confident in my own thoughts and abilities and don’t doubt myself those are the ones that I fly best.

Being able to spend time alone, and being comfortable with your own company for me is a really important aspect of being a pilot. When acting as Pilot In Command I spend a lot of time chatting to myself in my head, running through checklists, asking myself if I’ve remembered everything I need to or telling myself what I should be doing next. So I find that quote from Oscar Wilde rings true in aviation, knowing how to be alone and not defined by anyone else helps with that confidence in decision making.

So how do you answer when friends ask you why you love aviation so much? Do you have any quotes that have inspired you? It would be great to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

(Credit to this blog post from Zoe Foster for helping me find the Oscar Wilde quote).

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2 Comments

  1. Have to completely agree with "leaving your troubles on the ground". And when you do this, they become smaller like the world below you even when you come back down.

    There is also the wonder of mastering an enviroment the humans don't natural inhabit. The fulfilment of that childhood dream to be free like the birds.

    But best of all it's just plain fun!

  2. Thanks Gary, I love the sentiment of "The fulfilment of that childhood dream to be free like the birds". What young boy or girl hasn't dreamed that at some point?

    Happy Flying!

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