This file has things about pilots, skydiving and air travel. Also see Air Force.
Lord of Sea and Earth and Air,
Listen to the Pilot's prayer--
Send him wind that's steady and strong,
Grant that his engine sings the song
Of flawless tone, by which he knows
It shall not fail him where he goes;
Landing, gliding, in curve, half-roll--
Grant him, O Lord, a full control,
That he may learn in heights of Heaven
The rapture altitude has given,
That he shall know the joy they feel
Who ride Thy realms on Birds of Steel.
On some air bases the military is on one side of the field and civilian aircraft use the other side of the field, with the control tower in the middle.
One day the tower received a call from an aircraft asking, "What time is it?"
The tower responded, "Who is calling?"
The aircraft replied, "What difference does it make?"
The tower replied, "It makes a lot of difference.
If you're a United Airlines Flight, it's 3 o'clock.
If you're an Air Force flight, it's 1500.
If you're a Navy flight, it's 6 bells.
If you're an Army flight, the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 3.
If you're a Marine Corps flight, it's Thursday afternoon."
(John Gillespie Magee Jr.)
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. Hovering 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 windswept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even 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.
(My step-mother had a private pilot license and loved flying.
This was her favorite poem and my sister read it at her funeral.)
I hope there is a place, way up in the sky,
Where flyers can go when they have to die.
A place where a guy can buy a cold beer
For a friend and a comrade, whose memory is dear,
A place where no doctor or lawyer can tread,
Nor a management clone would ere be caught dead,
Just a quaint little place where a lady could go
And be safe and protected by the men she would know.
There must be a place where old flyers go,
When their paining is finished and their airspeed gets low,
Where the whiskey is old and the women are young,
and Songs about flying and dying are sung,
Where you'd see all the fellows who'd flown west before,
And they'd call out your name as you came through the door,
Who would buy you a drink, if your thirst should be bad,
And relate to the others: "He was quite a good lad."
And then through the mist you'd spot an old guy
You had not seen in years though he'd taught you to fly,
He'd nod his old head, and grin ear to ear,
And say; "Welcome, my son. I'm pleased that you're here.
For this is the place where the true flyers come
When their journey is over and the war has been won.
They've come here at last to be safe and alone,
From the government clerks and the management clone.
Politicians and lawyers, the Feds and the noise,
Where all hours are happy and these good 'ol boys
Can relax with a cool one, and a well deserved rest,
This is Heaven, my son . . . You've passed your last test."
I have seen the birth of dawn and the sunset die
And rode my steed, the thunder; across the sky.
I have lived among the towering heights
and known a thousand; Nay a million endless,
And beyond the swirling mists on high
I have rolled and zoomed far above
enveloped in the golden glory
of my one, my love.
So how do you say, good bye to a pair of silver wings,
a sunlit sky and oh, so many things?
After all these joys I have known , how do you say adieu?
I know not my friend. Do you?
(Thomas G. Bergin)
And now 'tis man who dares assault the sky . . .
And as we come to claim our promised place,
Aim only to repay the good you gave,
And warm with human love the chill of space.
(This was the first poem to be launched into orbit, inscribed on a satellite instrument panel.)
I am the eagle, I live in high country,
In rocky cathedrals that reach to the sky,
I am the hawk and there's blood on my feathers,
But time is still turning, they soon will be dry,
And all those who see me, and all who believe in me,
Share in the freedom I feel when I fly!
Come dance with the west wind,
And touch all the mountain tops,
Sail o'er the canyons, and up to the stars,
And reach for the heavens, and hope for the future,
And all that we can be, not what we are.
I laugh more than other men
I look up and see more than they,
I know how the clouds feel,
What it's like to have the blue in my lap,
to look down on birds,
to feel freedom in a thing called the stick . . .
Who but I can slice between God's billowed legs,
and feel them laugh and crash with His step
Who else has seen the unclimbed peaks?
The rainbow's secret?
The real reason birds sing?
Because I Fly,
I envy no man on earth.
(Gary Claud Stokor)
Flight is freedom in its purest form,
To dance with the clouds which follow a storm;
To roll and glide, to wheel and spin,
To feel the joy that swells within;
To leave the earth with its troubles and fly,
And know the warmth of a clear spring sky;
Then back to earth at the end of a day,
Released from the tensions which melted away.
Should my end come while I am in flight,
Whether brightest day or darkest night;
Spare me your pity and shrug off the pain,
Secure in the knowledge that I'd do it again;
For each of us is created to die,
And within me I know,
I was born to fly.
I am the copilot. I sit on the right,
It's up to me to be quick and bright,
I never talk back so I have no regrets,
But I have to remember what the Captain forgets.
I make out the Flight Plan and study the weather,
Pull up the gear, stand by to feather,
Make out the mail forms and do the reporting,
And fly the old crate while the Captain is courting.
I take the readings, adjust the power,
Put on the heaters when we're in a shower,
Tell him where we are on the darkest night,
And do all the book work without any light.
I call for my Captain and buy him cokes,
I always laugh at his corny jokes,
And once in awhile when his landings are rusty
I always come through with, "By gosh it's gusty!"
All in all I'm a general stooge,
As I sit on the right of the man I call "Scrooge",
I guess you think that is past understanding,
But maybe some day he will give me a landing.
(Father John MacGillivary, Royal Canadian Air Force)
Lord of thunderhead and sky
Who place in man the will to fly
Who taught his hand speed, skill and grace
To soar beyond man's dwelling place
You shared with him the Eagle's view
The right to soar, as Eagles do
The right to call the clouds his home
And grateful, through your heavens roam
May all assembled here tonight
And all who love the thrill of flight
Recall with twofold gratitude
Your gift of Wings, Your gift of Food.
(Sarah Churchill, daughter of Sir Winston Churchill)
Whenever I see them ride on high
Gleaming and proud in the morning sky
Or lying awake in bed at night
I hear them pass on their outward flight,
I feel the mass of metal and guns
Delicate instruments, dead-weight tons
Awkward, slow, bomb racks full
Straining away from downward pull
Straining away from home and base
And try to see the pilot's face.
I imagine a boy who's just left school
On whose quick-learned skill and courage cool
Depend the lives of the men in his crew
And success of the job they have to do.
And something happens to me inside
That is deeper than grief, greater than pride,
And though there is nothing I can say
I always look up as they go their way
And care and pray for every one,
And steel my heart to say,
"Thy will be done."
(Patrick J. Phillips)
When this life I'm in is done,
And at the gates I stand,
My hope is that I answer all
His questions on command.
I doubt He'll ask me of my fame,
Or all the things I knew, instead,
He'll ask of rainbows sent
On rainy days I flew.
The hours logged, the status reached,
The ratings will not matter,
He'll ask me if I saw the rays
And how He made them scatter.
Or what about the droplets clear,
I spread across your screen?
And did you see the twinkling eyes,
Of student pilots keen?
The way your heart jumped in your chest,
That special solo day--
Did you take time to thank the ones
Who helped along the way?
Remember how the runway lights
Looked one night long ago
When you were lost and found your way,
And how--you still don't know?
How fast, how far, how much, how high?
He'll ask me not these things
But did I take the time to watch
The moonbeams wash my wings?
And did you see the patchwork fields
And mountains I did mould,
The mirrored lakes and velvet hills,
Of these did I behold?
The wind he flung along my wings,
On final almost stalled,
And did I know it was His name,
That I so fearfully called?
And when the goals are reached at last,
When all the flying's done,
I'll answer Him with no regret--
Indeed, I had some fun.
So when these things are asked of me,
And I can reach no higher,
My prayer this day--His hand extends
To welcome home a Flyer.