Pilot superstitions

I have learned over the years that pilots, just like sailors, can be very superstitious people. I myself admit to it and have certain rituals I just don’t do well without. They’re not quite the same rituals that Chuck has, but then again, I have learned that there are as many ways of doing things as there are pilots.

Around the Cranes we do a lot of things we call “tribal knowledge” and some of these things may not have a scientific background and might be things pilots just started doing one day but we do them anyways.

A lot of people believe in what might be good luck and/or bad luck and I believe in not tempting faith either way. For example I have never heard of a Crane being renamed ever since I started with them even when it came out of the National Guard with a name that had no meaning to us because it is said to be bad luck renaming a vessel. And in good old Panaca Jane, nobody ever took out the fuzzy dice (maybe that is where the idea for this strip came from? wink, wink) once they were “installed”. After many years of wear and tear they finally fell apart and wouldn’t look like dice anymore so they were stashed in a little bag underneath the seat. But they were not taken out of the aircraft as long as I flew the thing 😉

Let’s hear/see some of your aviation (or other, for that matter) rituals!

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8 comments on “Pilot superstitions
  1. KenH says:

    Renaming a ship is an oldie and considered terminal bad luck; likewise while christening, failing to break the champagne bottle. And, never whistle in the wheelhouse, it brings the wind…:P

  2. Rob de Vries says:

    Just look at all the rituals astronauts and cosmonauts have to go through before being launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome.

  3. Delta Echo says:

    But are there no-nos about painting aircraft green, or eating peanuts in or around them?

    (Both of these are traditional racing-driver superstitions…)

  4. reynard61 says:

    It was supposedly good luck among B-17 Flying Fortress crews to pee on the tailwheel before a mission. (Although I imagine that the crew chiefs were less than amused.) Also, a lot of combat pilots kept pictures of wives/sweethearts/lovers under their flight caps or wedged into an easily seen place on the control panel. Also popular was a “lucky” rabbit’s foot (except, of course, for the poor rabbit!) or some other small amulet or knick-knack. Lastly, Nose Art in-and-of-itself was sometimes considered a bringer of good luck.

  5. Bernd says:

    Delta Echo,

    Not painting race cars green? Whatever happened to the famous “British Racing Green”?

    Maybe it’s an American thing, the fear of being mistaken for a Brit.

  6. Catapult says:

    Remember, your own practices are not “superstitions”, they are “ancestral pieties”>

  7. Bomber says:

    I got a couple of rituals I go through when skydiving i.e. I’m not happy unless I check my hackey and go through the reserve drills motions three times on the way up to altitude dispite having a kit check and going through the reserve drill motions on the ground before boarding. Also I don’t jump unless I have my closing pin necklace on and a fiver in my sock 🙂

  8. JP Kalishek says:

    Yeah, that is a Stock Car racing one, mostly US, some in Canada too.

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