[These were sent to me by a friend recently and they’re quite wonderful. And mostly all are absolutely true. (Except the one about not leaving anything up in the sky. It must have been coined before space flight as I believe there are still a few objects up there—including a couple of Russian cosmonauts and a dog or two.)
[Someone left off the wisest military comment, now universally known as Murphy's Law ('Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong'). Ed Murphy (1918-90) was an actual Air Force captain, so it qualifies.]
If the Enemy is in range, so are you.
It is generally inadvisable to eject over the area you just bombed.
—U.S. Air Force Manual
Aim towards the Enemy.
—Instructions printed on U.S. rocket launcher
When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend
—U.S. Marine Corps
—USAF Ammo Troop
Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.
—General Douglas MacArthur
Try to look unimportant; they may be low on ammo.
You, you, and you. Panic. The rest of you come with me.
—U.S. Marine Gunnery Sergeant
Tracers work both ways.
—U.S. Army Ordnance
Five second fuses only last three seconds.
Don't ever be the first, don't ever be the last, and don't ever volunteer to do anything.
—U.S. Navy swabbie
Bravery is being the only one who knows you're afraid.
If your attack is going too well, you're walking into an ambush.
No combat-ready unit has ever passed inspection.
Any ship can be a minesweeper. Once.
Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do
—Unknown Marine Recruit
Don't draw fire; it irritates the people around you.
—USAF Ammo Troop
You've never been lost until you've been lost at Mach 3.
—Test pilot Paul F. Crickmore
The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire.
—From an old carrier sailor
If the wings are traveling faster than the fuselage, it's probably a helicopter—and therefore, unsafe.
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.
Never trade luck for skill.
The three most common expressions (or famous last words) in aviation are: “Why is it doing that?” “Where are we?” And “Oh S - - - !”
Weather forecasts are horoscopes with numbers.
Airspeed, altitude and brains. Two are always needed to complete the flight successfully.
Mankind has a perfect record in aviation; we never left one up there!
Flashlights are tubular metal containers kept in a flight bag to store dead batteries.
Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground who is incapable of understanding or doing anything about it.
The Piper Cub is the safest airplane in the world; it can just barely kill you.
—Attributed to Northrop test pilot Max Stanley
A pilot who doesn't have any fear probably isn't flying his plane to its maximum.
— Astronaut Jon McBride
If you're faced with a forced landing, fly the thing as far into the crash as possible.
— Renowned aerobatic and test pilot Bob Hoover
A slipping gear could let your M203 grenade launcher fire when you least expect it. That would make you quite unpopular in what's left of your unit.
—Army's magazine of preventive maintenance.
Never fly in the same cockpit with someone braver than you.
—Sign over squadron ops desk at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, 1970
If something hasn't broken on your helicopter, it's about to.
You know that your landing gear is up and locked when it takes full power to taxi to the terminal.
As the test pilot climbs out of the experimental aircraft, having torn off the wings and tail in the crash landing, the crash truck arrives, the rescuer sees a bloodied pilot and asks, “What happened?” The pilot's reply, “I don't know, I just got here myself!”
—Attributed to Lockheed test pilot Ray Crandell
[I don’t know where these came from originally. They sound a little like things that used to appear in Reader’s Digest—which had a regular feature called “Humor in Uniform”—but I have no idea. The friend who sent them to me got them from someone else, so he doesn’t know the source, either. I guess we’ll just have to pass them from hand to hand, like the old Soviet practice of samizdat, without ever knowing the origin of the collection. Like a chain letter—without the curses or Ponzi-scheme promises of wealth. Just chuckles and knowing smiles. ~Rick]