The first pilots crossing the Atlantic, crash landed on bogland in the western tip of Ireland. During their flight they came into free fall twice above the ocean. They lost the hood of the ‘cockpit’ and went trough snow and rain at 3500 m altitude, soaking and freezing them completely.
The current King of the Netherlands has been secretly flying as a commercial co-pilot for 21 years, and has been doing so even after ascending to the throne in 2013.
Chuck Yeager broke two of his ribs two nights before a test flight. Worried an injury would have him removed, he told almost no one and snuck a broom handle into the plane to help him seal the hatch. He then proceeded to become the first human being to break the sound barrier.
In 1958 two pilots flew an aircraft for more than two months without landing, refueling by matching speed with a truck driving down a road. Their record has not been broken.
A pilot named William Overstreet flew his P-51 between the legs of the Eiffel Tower in pursuit of a German fighter, shooting down the plane and raising morale of French resistance fighters.
During the Korean war, pilot James Risner chased a Russian MiG pilot back to his base in China and while flying between hangars and avoiding anti-aircraft fire, he shot it down into parked fighters.
The pilot who successfully ditched Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in 2009 was an expert on airline safety, an NTSB accident investigator, published a paper on airline crew psychology in a crisis, and had his pilot’s certificate in gliders.
In 1956, for a bet, while drunk, Thomas Fitzpatrick stole a small plane from New Jersey and then landed it perfectly on a narrow Manhattan street in front of the bar he had been drinking at. Then, two years later, he did it again after a man didn’t believe he had done it the first time.
Russian pilot Semyon Bychkov served both in the Soviet Air Forces and the Luftwaffe and was stripped of all Soviet awards posthumously.
Colin McGregor, brother of Star Wars actor Ewan McGregor, is a British RAF pilot and goes by the call-sign “Obi Two”.