Aleksey Maresyev, a pilot who was shot down in Nazi territory, lost the use of his legs, crawled for eighteen days before returning to Soviet territory. His legs were then amputated. Nevertheless, within a year he was flying again on prosthetic legs.
Lydia Litvyak was the Jewish Soviet fighter ace. During WWII she claimed 14 kills, trained 45 pilots, and shot down an ace who wouldn’t believe a woman beat him until she described the fight. She went missing on a flight Just before she was to receive the award “Hero of the Soviet Union”.
Fuzzy dice hanging on a rear view mirror is a good luck charm with the origins based on WWII pilots keeping gambling trinkets in their air planes. A lot of car and sub culture trends is spawned from this, including hot rod flames, shark mouths, pin up girls, etc.
During WWII, J. Hunter Reinburg wanted to make ice cream for his men while stationed on a tropical island in the Pacific. He put the ingredients in a can mounted on the underside of his plane and would fly to 25,000 feet where the air temperature was -30 degrees Fahrenheit.
In 1970, a pilot engaging in mock combat in an F-106 lost control in a dive, ejected, and then the plane righted itself, continued to fly, landed softly in a snowy field, then was later recovered with minimal damage and returned to service.
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.