The only attribution I’ve ever seen for the quotation below is “Anonymous FAA Inspector.”

Whenever we talk about a pilot who has been killed in a flying accident, we should all keep one thing in mind. He called upon the sum of all his knowledge and made a judgment. He believed it so strongly that he knowingly bet his life on it. That his judgment was faulty was a tragedy, not stupidity. Every inspector, supervisor, and contemporary who ever spoke to him had an opportunity to influence his judgment, so a little of all of us goes with every pilot we lose.

Who originally said or wrote these words? What were the motivating circumstances?

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ I've seen it attributed in a lot of places, but they all say "anonymous" or "unknown", it may just be one of those anecdotal sayings that "somebody" said, that is really the combination of a number of different people and ideas combined into one. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ Here is on to add to the list: "We must learn from the mistakes of others because we will not live long enough to make them all ourselves." $\endgroup$
    – Mike Brass
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 22:04

2 Answers 2


William Garvey in "Viewpoint"

The authoritative reference is in this article:

Aftermath: Lessons Learned (Aviation Week)


The last words of William Garvey's January Viewpoint -- ". . . so a little of all of us goes with every pilot we lose." -- struck me ("Aftermath," page 7). I had just returned from the small town of Vesoul, France, where I attended a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the death of a Mirage III pilot. Lt. Patrick de Barbeyrac Saint-Maurice died while flying an intercept training mission near Vesoul on Nov. 3, 1966. The cause of the accident was never fully determined, other than the ...


Paywall stops reading more of it.

  • $\begingroup$ What is the complete quotation? $\endgroup$
    – Greg Bacon
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 13:53

Do not have enough reputation to comment, but will add this as a potential answer source:

— Captain A. G. Lamplugh, British Aviation Insurance Group, London. c. early 1930's. This famous phrase has been reproduced on posters and plaques many times, almost always with the attribution of 'anonymous.' I was told at a book signing that André Priester (one of the first Pan Am employee's) may have said it, and decided to check this with the late R. E. G. Davies, then curator of air transport history at the Smithsonian and author of a book on Pan Am. Ron called me back and told me the phrase pre-dates Priester. His research showed the originator of the phrase was Captain Lamplugh, who was quite well known in British aviation circles after WWI

Source: http://www.skygod.com/quotes/safety.html

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ The page you linked to gives that as the source for a different quote. The one the OP asked about is further down the same page, and listed as "author unknown". $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 0:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .