1. Jack Woolams

While test flying the first American jet plane, test pilot Jack Woolams wore a gorilla mask, a Durby hat, and a cigar just to mess with the other pilots he buzzed. The pilots were convinced they were crazy for seeing an airplane without propeller with a monkey at the controls. – Source

2. Famous aviator Charles Lindbergh served in World War 2 as a fighter pilot, despite still being a civilian. His wingman was known as “Fishkiller Miller” after he missed a target and accidentally killed thousands of nearby fish instead. – Source

3. The two rival TV helicopter pilots, both men (Dana-Vahle, formerly Dirk, and Zoey Tur, formerly Bob), who duked it out for OJ Simpson police chase footage have since both had sex change operations and become female friends. – Source

4. In May 1983, two Israeli Air Force aircrafts, an F-15 Eagle and an A-4 Skyhawk, collided in mid-air during a training exercise over the Negev region in Israel. Notably, the F-15 – with a crew of two – managed to land safely at a nearby airbase, despite having its right wing almost completely sheared off in the collision. – Source

5. In 1943, American pilot Alan Magee survived a fall from 20,000 feet without a parachute. He fell from his damaged B-17 Flying Fortress and smashed through the glass roof of the St. Nazaire railroad station. He survived and lived to the age of 82. – Source

6. T. Kuznetsov

During World War 2, a Soviet pilot named T. Kuznetsov, survived the crash of his Ilyushin Il-2 when shot down returning from a reconnaissance mission. Kuznetsov escaped from the wreck and hid nearby. To his surprise, a German Bf 109 fighter landed near the crash site and the pilot began to investigate the wrecked Il-2, possibly to assist Kuznetsov, or to look for souvenirs. Thinking quickly, Kuznetsov ran to the German fighter and used it to fly home, barely avoiding being shot down by Soviet fighters in the process. – Source

7. The movie “Behind Enemy Lines” told the story backward. The downed pilot named Scott O’Grady was rescued with full NATO cooperation and was in fact put into danger by a US general releasing information to the press. The pilot sued Fox over the movie and they settled out of court. – Source

8. In the spring of 1944, a pilot named William Overstreet Jr. flew his P-51 Mustang underneath the arches of the Eiffel Tower in pursuit of a German fighter, shooting down the plane and raising the morale of French resistance fighters. – Source

9. In 1994, a disgruntled FedEx employee named Auburn Calloway tried to hijack and crash a FedEx cargo flight, using hammers and a spear gun. Despite serious injuries during the attack, the pilot flew the DC-10 upside down at times in an attempt to pin the hijacker to the ceiling of the plane to stop him. The pilot performed maneuvers well beyond all known capabilities of the aircraft and landed it safely. – Source

10. The most isolated human being ever was Alfred Worden, command module pilot of Apollo 15, who in lunar orbit was at a maximum distance of 2,235 miles (3,597 km) from his fellow astronauts on the surface. While on the other side of the Moon, no communication with Earth or his comrades was possible. – Source

11. Mike Gongol

In 2014, pilot United Flight 1637 suffered a heart attack mid-flight, and so an off-duty air force captain, Mike Gongol, who was a passenger had to help land the plane, saving 160 lives. He knew he had to help when he heard the PA announcement “are there any non-revenue pilots on board, please ring your call button.” – Source

12. In 1968, a Japanese pilot named Kohei Asoh landed Japan Airlines Flight 2 near Coyote Point in the shallow waters of San Francisco Bay, two and a half miles short of the runway due to heavy fog and other factors. When asked about it, he replied: “As you Americans say, I f*cked up.” – Source

13. During the Berlin Blockade of 1948, a pilot named Gail Halvorsen who was doing supply drops for the civilians became known as “Uncle Wiggly Wings” as well as “The Chocolate Uncle”, “The Gum Drop Kid” and “The Chocolate Flier” after he started dropping candy and chocolate from his plane and wiggling his wings so people knew it was him. – Source

14. In 1960, a Russian terrorist named Alex Hildebrandt tried to hijack Trans Australia flight 408, armed with a bomb. Co-pilot Tom R. Bennett punched him in the face and ripped the wires off the bomb, saving 49 lives. – Source

15. Airline pilots in the 1930s and 40s would navigate by listening to a stream of automated “A” and “N” Morse codes when visibility was poor. They would turn the aircraft to the right when hearing an “N” stream, to the left on an “A” stream and fly straight ahead while hearing a steady tone. – Source

16. Sergeant Sydney Cohen

In World War 2, a British pilot named Sergeant Sydney Cohen made an emergency landing on the Italian island of Lampedusa, only to have the island surrender to him. – Source

17. During the World War 2 naval battle of Leyte Gulf, an American pilot named Lt. Thomas C. Lupo made repeated attack runs against one of the largest battleships in history, Japan’s IJN Yamato. After running out of ammunition, the pilot continued attacking, throwing a Coke bottle and other loose cockpit articles at the ship’s bridge. – Source

18. During the Korean War, Air Force pilot James Robinson Risner successfully “pushed” his wingman’s incapacitated jet fighter into friendly territory using the nose of his own jet, a maneuver that had never been attempted in history. – Source

19. Under certain conditions, a pilot not trained to fly by gyroscopic instruments can enter into a death spiral, believing that he is maintaining straight flight and be completely unaware that he is even turning. – Source

20. In some of the earliest displays of stunt flying, a pilot named Eugène Lefebvre would fly directly at terrified spectators, turning away only at the last second. He is also the first person to die while piloting a powered aircraft and the second person to be killed in a powered airplane crash. – Source

21. Carl Gustaf von Rosen

In 1969, a Swedish pilot named Carl Gustaf von Rosen, disgusted by the genocide of the Biafran people, built his own fighter airplanes and fought the Nigerian Air Force with a band of friends. – Source

22. Japanese Kamikaze pilots during the World War 2 were allowed to return if they didn’t find a suitable target. One pilot was shot after his 9th return. – Source

23. In 1916, a German fighter pilot named Manfred von Richthofen was considered a below average pilot who crashed during his first flight at the controls. Upon his death after two years, and 80 aerial kills later, the British buried The Red Baron with full military honors out of respect for his skill as an aviator. – Source

24. World War 2 fighter pilot James Howard won the medal of honor for single-handedly taking on more than 30 German fighter planes all by himself to protect a group of American bomber planes. – Source

25. In 1953, a North Korean fighter pilot named No Kum Sok defected to South Korea with his MiG-15. He received a reward of $100,000 offered by Operation Moolah for defecting with his aircraft. Operation Moolah was a US Air Force effort during the Korean War to obtain a MiG-15 jet fighter through defection. He claimed not to have heard about this operation prior to his defection. – Source


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