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As a Vietnam era fighter pilot, I have heard and used the expression “bought the farm” many times. To my understanding, it is not meant to be taken literally, as in paying off a mortgage. Instead, it is meant in jest, a little bit of black humor poking fun at the constant risk of being killed in an airplane crash.

"Bought” is used as follows: After breaking an expensive vase in a china shop, the proprietor says, “I am sorry sir, but I’m afraid you just bought it.” Bought or buy means doing something that has quick, negative, and irreversible consequences, in this case being killed.

I have heard three variations on “the farm.” First is a piece of land, a very small piece of land, used for raising daisies. This, of course, means a grave plot. The second is a piece of land where you are planted (buried) rather than a crop, again referring to a grave. The third variation, and my personal preference, is a piece of land where you plant yourself - usually at the bottom of the smoking hole made when your airplane crashed.

For people in harms way, the Grim Reaper is often a too frequent visitor. If “he” is taken too seriously, it may interfere with one’s duty. To reduce this problem, combatants since ancient armies first marched have found ways to make light of and mock “Old Scratch” and “the skinny guy with the scythe.”
Meaning of the expression, “Bought the farm.”

Steve was doing ACM practice and had a mid-air. Unfortunately, he bought the farm.
by rlltrash August 02, 2010
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