The designation 'sky pilot' … has only been in use for a few years, say ten…. So wrote George William Foote in the 1893 book Flowers of Freethought. He was right. Our earliest evidence dates the term to 1883. Foote compared the sky pilot to the more familiar pilot of his age: the helmsman whose job is to steer a ship. And he faulted the former, tongue in cheek, for lacking the follow-through of the latter: "The honest salt boards the ship, and takes her out to sea, or brings her into port.… But the sky-pilot does not go with you. Oh dear no! That is no part of his bargain." "Sky pilot" has never been a very common term, but it's actually a tad more common today than it was when Foote's book was published.