Uncommon Knowledge: What does it really mean to “fly by the seat of your pants”?

The phrase “fly by the seat of your pants” took off in the early days of aviation. Surprisingly, the first aircrafts were equipped with few navigational tools, which meant that pilots had to rely on their, ahem, tail ends to feel the plane’s reactions to external flying conditions.

Spark Plug Plane Paperweight, $35

Written by Stephanie

Stephanie is a vagabond copywriter and design critic who has contributed work to some top-notch institutions, retailers, and publications, most recently The New York Times, MoMA, New York Magazine, the New Museum, and UncommonGoods—of course! When not pun-slinging and agonizing over picayune grammatical quandaries, she can be found sipping bourbon in Brooklyn with her husband and trying (unsuccessfully) to walk her very stubborn bagle hound, Ginger.

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