Airplanes and Rockets'
Poems of Flight
While I am not a big poetry fan, every once in a while I run across a poem that I really like. Many of them, or course, are related to aviation and space flight. This page will capture those that I can remember and are able to locate online.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there, I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace Where never lark, or ever eagle flew — And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
I am blind: I have never seen Sun gold nor silver moon, Nor the fairy faces of flowers, Nor the radiant noon.
They speak of the dawn and the dusk, And the smile of a child, Of the deep red heart of a rose, As of God, undefiled.
But I learnt from the air to-day (On a bird’s wings I flew) That the earth could never contain All of the God I knew.
I felt the blue mantle of space, And kissed the cloud's white hem, I heard the stars’ majestic choir, And sang my praise with them.
Now joy is mine through my long night, I do not feel the rod, For I have danced the streets of heaven, And touched the face of God.
One More Roll
We toast our hearty comrades who have fallen from the skies, and were gently caught by God's own hand to be with him on High.
To dwell among the soaring clouds they've known so well before. From victory roll to tail chase, at heaven's very door.
As we fly among them there, we're sure to head their plea. To take care my friend, watch your six, and do one more roll for me.
— Commander Jerry Coffee, Hanoi, 1968
U.S. Air Force Song
Off we go into the wild blue yonder, Climbing high into the sun; Here they come zooming to meet our thunder, At 'em boys, Give 'er the gun! (Give 'er the gun now!) Down we dive, spouting our flame from under, Off with one helluva roar! We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey! Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!
Minds of men fashioned a crate of thunder, Sent it high into the blue; Hands of men blasted the world asunder; How they lived God only knew! (God only knew then!) Souls of men dreaming of skies to conquer Gave us wings, ever to soar! With scouts before And bombers galore. Hey! Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!
Bridge: "A Toast to the Host"
Here's a toast to the host Of those who love the vastness of the sky, To a friend we send a message of his brother men who fly. We drink to those who gave their all of old, Then down we roar to score the rainbow's pot of gold. A toast to the host of men we boast, the U.S. Air Force!
Off we go into the wild sky yonder, Keep the wings level and true; If you'd live to be a grey-haired wonder Keep the nose out of the blue! (Out of the blue, boy!) Flying men, guarding the nation's border, We'll be there, followed by more! In echelon we carry on. Hey! [originally "SHOUT!] Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!
— Robert Crawford 1939
Note that Crawford wrote this during the era of the "Army Air Corps," so "U.S. Air Force" is the modern form. Words in parentheses are spoken, not sung.
According to Great Aviation Quotes, in 1938, Liberty magazine sponsored a contest for a spirited, enduring musical composition to become the official Army Air Corps song. Of 757 scores submitted, Robert Crawford’s was selected by a committee of Air Force wives. The song was officially introduced at the Cleveland Air Races on 2 September 1939. Fittingly, Crawford sang in its first public performance.
The first page of the score, which Crawford submitted to the selection committee in July 1939, was carried to the surface of the Moon on 30 July 1971 aboard the Apollo 15 'Falcon' lunar module by Colonel David R. Scott and Lieutenant Colonel James B. Irwin. Interestingly, at the moment the 'Falcon' blasted off the surface of the Moon with Scott and Irwin on board, a rendition of the 'Air Force Song' was broadcast to the world by Major Alfred M. Worden, who had a tape player aboard the 'Endeavor' command module which was in orbit around the Moon. Scott, Irwin and Worden comprised the only all-air-force Apollo crew .