I got this sage advice from Cliff, a veteran helicopter pilot with two tours in Vietnam under his belt. I figure he knows what he is talking about. My favorite is number 15. (Author is unknown.)
1. Takeoffs are optional. Landings are mandatory.
2. If you push the stick forward, the houses get bigger. If you pull the stick back, they get smaller.
3. Flying isn’t dangerous. Crashing is dangerous.
4. It’s always better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.
5. The only time you have too much fuel is when you’re on fire.
6. 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.
7. When in doubt, hold on to your altitude. No one has ever collided with the sky.
8. A “good” landing is one from which you can walk away. A “great” landing is one after which they can use the plane again.
9. Learn from the mistakes of others. You won’t live long enough to make all of them yourself.
10. You know you’ve landed with the wheels up if it takes full power to taxi to the ramp.
11. The probability of survival is inversely proportional to the angle of arrival. Large angle of arrival equals a small probability of survival — and vice versa.
12. Never let an airplane take you somewhere your brain didn’t get to five minutes earlier.
13. Stay out of clouds. The silver lining everyone keeps talking about might be another airplane going in the opposite direction.
14. Reliable sources also report that mountains have been known to hide out in clouds.
15. There are three simple rules for making a smooth landing. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
16. 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.
17. Keep looking around. There’s always something you’ve missed.
18. If all you can see out of the windscreen is ground that’s going round and round and all you can hear is commotion coming from the passenger compartment, things are not at all as they should be.
19. 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.
20. Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, experience usually comes from bad judgment.
21. It’s always a good idea to keep the pointy end going forward as much as possible.
22. There are old pilots and there are bold pilots. There are, however, no old, bold pilots.
23. Remember, gravity is not just a good idea. It’s the law. And it’s not subject to repeal.
24. Always try to keep the number of landings you make equal to the number of takeoffs you’ve made.
25. The three most useless things to a pilot are altitude above you, runway behind you, and a tenth of a second ago.