The Wit & Wisdom of Pancho Barnes

The Pancho Barnes Trust Estate Archive consists of over 120 linear feet of files containing her personal and business correspondence, business records, legal files, photographs, photograph negatives and a few 16mm films. For most of her life Pancho Barnes had a secretary and so the correspondence files almost always contain both sides of the communication (i.e., incoming letter and response). During the process of creating the Archive inventory, we culled from her letters some of her thinking on life, love and ‘what it’s all about.’

Pancho Barnes’ Philosophy of Life

“When you have a choice, choose happy.”

“True wealth isn’t measured in dollars, but in the love and laughter we share with others.”

“If you don’t think big, only small things happen.”

“Open minds open doors.”

“I’d rather have a life full of ‘oh wells’ than a life of ‘what ifs.’

“Sometimes fear is just excitement in need of an attitude adjustment.”

“The happiest people I know are those who are too busy to be looking for happiness.”

“In the vast sky of life, your dreams are your wings – the stronger they are, the higher you’ll

“Don’t let life’s storms keep you grounded – dance in the rain until the skies clear.”

“You can complain that rosebushes have thorns, or you can rejoice that those bushes have roses.”

“Sometimes the most important journeys we take are the ones that begin with a single leap of

“Love generously, laugh heartily, and live life with the throttle wide open.”

“Dream more while you are awake.”

“When life’s winds blow against you, remember that even the mightiest birds take advantage of the headwind to soar higher.”

“A smooth flight doesn’t make a skilled pilot; it’s the turbulence that teaches us how to soar.”

“Sometimes, the most important journeys we take are the ones that begin with a single leap of faith.”

“A true adventurer embraces the unexpected detours, knowing they often lead to the most memorable experiences.”

“The most valuable souvenirs we collect on our journey through life are the memories we make and the friendships we forge.”

“Sometimes in life you will encounter crosswinds, they may blow you off course, but you’ve got
to adjust and keep flying.”

“Lend a hand, a smile, or a listening ear, and you’ll find your life’s journey is enriched.”

“A compassionate heart makes life’s journey smoother, even in the roughest of airspaces.”

Pancho Barnes’ Thoughts on the Importance of Living Your Life

“Be yourself. Don’t try to be like someone else because we’ve seen that already!”

“Sometimes, the best way to navigate life is to trust your intuition and follow your heart.”

“Your wings were made to carry you, not the weight of someone else’s expectations.”

“Be the pilot of your own life, and don’t let anyone else take the controls.”

“You were born an original – don’t let life turn you into a copy of someone else.”

“When you’re true to yourself, you’ll find that the world opens up to you in ways you never

“Being yourself is the best navigational tool you have in the journey of life.”

“Free yourself. Be yourself.”

Pancho Barnes’ Thoughts on Being a Pilot

“Flying makes me feel like a sex maniac in a whorehouse with a stack of $100 bills.”

“A mile of road will take you a mile, but a mile of runway can take you anywhere.”

“If you are lucky enough to be a pilot, you’re lucky enough.”

Pancho Barnes’ Thoughts on Sex and Sexuality

“You know that air is a lot like sex. It’s no big deal unless you aren’t getting any.”

“If it doesn’t have wings or pants, I’m not interested.”

Pancho Barnes’ Wit

“Don’t piss on my boots and tell me it’s raining.”

“Don’t squat with your spurs on.”

“Saying that something is ‘impossible’ is not a fact; it is an opinion.”

“Nothing exceeds like excess.”

“Success is like altitude: it’s easy to lose if you’re not paying attention.”

“The sky is not the limit, it’s just the beginning.”

“Practice makes better.”

“I have found that the harder you work in life, the more ‘good luck’ comes your way.”