On 9/11, some jet fighters took to the air without live ammunition, knowing that to prevent the hijackers from striking their intended targets, the pilots might have to intercept and crash their fighters into the hijacked planes, ejecting at the last moment.
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.
3. 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.
4. During the 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.
5. In 1973, Concorde pilots chased a solar eclipse across the Sahara desert at Mach 2. They extended it from 7 minutes to 74.
6Sergeant 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.
7. American game show host Bob Barker was trained as a Navy fighter pilot in World War 2, but wasn't sent to a fleet squadron in time to fight. He once said: "I was all ready to go, and when the enemy heard that I was headed for the Pacific, they surrendered. That was the end of World War II."
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11Southwest Airlines Flight 1248
In 2005, a pilot of Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 was concerned about the weather. He jokingly referenced the movie ‘Airplane!’, saying “I picked a bad day to stop sniffin’ glue,” shortly before his plane crashed.
12. 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.
13. In 1970, a fighter jet landed itself on a cornfield in Montana after the pilot ejected from it following an unrecoverable spin. His act of ejection changed the center of gravity of the plane, allowing it to recover. It went back into service after minor repair work.
14. The O'Hare Airport is named after an American fighter pilot named Edward O'Hare who was the lone defender during an attack on his carrier. He was killed leading the first night defense against a Kamikaze attack. Two years earlier, his own father was murdered for being the only man willing to testify against Al Capone.
15. A Russian pilot named Pyotr Nesterov was both the first pilot to fly a loop in an airplane and the first to destroy an enemy aircraft in flight. He died during the latter attempt because planes did not have weapons and he had to ram it.
16Dana Vahle and Zoey Tur
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.
17. James Stewart is the highest-ranking actor in military history (Brigadier General). He was World War 2 and Vietnam War veteran and a licensed commercial pilot. In 1996, he was due to have the battery in his pacemaker changed, but opted not to, preferring to let things happen naturally.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
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.
22. A test pilot named Thomas W. Attridge Jr. accidentally shot his own aircraft down while testing the F-11 Tiger. After firing a short burst at 13,000 feet, he accelerated into a dive and leveled off to fire another burst at 7,000 feet, where he was struck by the bullets he'd fired earlier.
23. 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.
24. Ken Taylor and George Welch were two of the US pilots who were able to take off during the attack on Pearl Harbor and down 7 enemy aircrafts. They were denied the Medal of Honor because their commanding officer said they had “taken off without orders.”
25. 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.”