Airplane Tattoo: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Airplane Tattoo: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Most often when we choose a tattoo, we pick something that is especially meaningful to us. An airplane tattoo is one that has a host of meanings and symbolisms associated with it. 

Airplanes represent so much more than just taking us from one place to the next. If you’ve been inspired to get an airplane tattoo, below you can learn all about what airplanes can represent outside of being a lover of travel. 

What Is The History Of Airplane Tattoos?

An airplane tattoo has been a popular choice for quite some time, though an exact start for this particular tattoo theme is unknown. There are many different forms of airplane tattoos, all of which have their own particular meanings behind them. 

Airplane tattoos were likely first worn by people who flew airplanes, either pilots or people in the military who flew planes. They could represent that person’s particular experience flying planes. Travel lovers were likely to get airplane tattoos, given the common association of travel and aircrafts. 

So many less obvious meanings have now become linked with airplanes, giving rise to the popularity of airplane tattoos in all their forms, whether they are tattooed by themselves or with other tattoos and symbols incorporated into the tattoo. 

What Do Airplane Tattoos Symbolize?

Airplanes can symbolize a person’s lifelong journey, whether it’s been an easy journey or one that has been full of turbulence. An airplane that has fire around it or is perhaps in the midst of battle could symbolize how you’ve had to fight through certain aspects of your life, but you keep on persevering. 

Similarly, airplane tattoos could also symbolize a person’s desire to move away from their past and focus on their future. This kind of tattoo works for someone who has had to overcome many obstacles or barriers in their life, but wishes to use those as fuel to go forward in life. 

An airplane can also symbolize someone who has been in the military, particularly the Air Force, or knows someone who was active in it. These tattoos might be more detailed to appear like a military plane, potentially with a flag or some kind of wording on it to represent their particular plane. 

Airplane tattoos that incorporate the shadow of an airplane are often symbols to memorialize someone that you have lost. This doesn’t necessarily have to be for someone who was a pilot or in the military. It could be someone who loved airplanes, or it could be because the airplane is meaningful to your relationship in some aspect. 

What Do Airplane Tattoos Mean?

An airplane tattoo might simply mean that someone loves travel and adventure. It may be a representation of the places one has been, or their propensity to add new destinations to their bucket list all the time. Pilots might also get airplane tattoos as a representation of their beloved career. 

Paper airplanes are often connected to a person’s willingness to push themselves into new experiences, or their desire to transform themselves from something ordinary to extraordinary. These types of airplanes can also convey a person’s desire to live a life that is adventurous, cheerful, and stress-free. 

Furthermore, paper airplanes can also incorporate particular memories from one’s childhood. Whether someone wants a tattoo with that particular hidden meaning of childhood memories that are personal, or they want to remind themselves to live with childlike wonder, paper airplanes bring us all back to our younger years when we used to make them all the time. 

Different colored airplanes also have their own meanings linked to them. For instance, a black airplane is usually associated with the military or the army. A white airplane is often given a heavenly meaning, perhaps in memory of someone who has gone to heaven. Colorful airplanes can mean someone has gone through some type of change, or they are open to change in the future. 

Where Do Airplane Tattoos Usually Go?

Smaller and daintier airplane tattoos are quite popular, and these simple designs can go just about anywhere. Along the forearm, either on the inside or on the side, is one popular placement for smaller airplane themed tattoos. They can even go on the finger, on the hand, on the ankle, or behind the ear or neck. 

Larger, more realistic looking airplane tattoos often go on a larger part of the body. They may go on the shoulder, anywhere on the back, on the ribcage, or even on the leg. Since there are so many different types of airplane tattoos that you can come up with, they can go pretty much anywhere on your body. 

Characteristics And Styles Of Airplane Tattoos

Paper airplanes or simplistic airplanes are two common characteristics of airplane tattoos for people who enjoy more understated, minimalist tattoos. These are often completed with black ink, though some paper airplanes might have some black and gray shade work within them. 

Those who are opting for more simplistic designs may also get a series of airplanes tattooed that may travel along a part of their body. They might go in one direction or may go in all different directions. Other symbols may be incorporated into this style of airplane tattoo depending on what the person wants their tattoo to signify. 

The great thing about choosing an airplane tattoo is that you can truly get creative with how it’s done. You can combine classic realism with new techniques such as watercoloring or freehand coloring, or have an airplane become part of a bigger piece with other tattoos around it. 


Airplane tattoos can be incredibly diverse and meaningful, regardless of whether or not you are someone who likes being on a plane. There are also so many directions you can go in when it comes to airplane tattoos that the opportunities to create your own unique design are endless. 

An airplane tattoo can perfectly signify your love of travel and adventure, or it could be an homage to something deeply personal that warms your heart each time you look at it.

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