Pilot’s Delight

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.

~ from High Flight by John Gillespie Magee

Magee (1922-41) fought and died in the Second World War; he was half-American, born in China, and served in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Magee wrote ‘High Flight’, a sonnet, about the exhilarating experience of flying through the air in a fighter-plane. Magee was killed in an accidental mid-air collision over England in 1941; his poem gained a new lease on life when then President Ronald Reagan quoted from it following the Challenger disaster in 1986.

22 thoughts on “Flight”

  1. Pilots get such incredible views of the landscape and it’s neat that they get to see it from a different perspective. It’s sad that Magee died so young, but at least his poem lives on forever.

    1. We do! It’s one of the best parts; then again, I love almost everything about it.
      Yes, he was so young (at that time, not even old enough to have a legal drink. Old enough to die, though.), but we have been gifted with his poem.

    1. Haha. You’ve asked a question that could take an entire blog post to answer. 🙂 It’s harder than learning how to drive. I’ll narrow it down to the major points: you have to know flight regulations, airspace, communications and aircraft systems (each aircraft is different). Then you have to learn weather, aerodynamics, navigation, stick and rudder skills and take-offs and landings. Next are in-flight emergencies. It’s a complex process with a lot of detail and it all has to work together.
      Driving has very different challenges from those pilots face, but most of the time, car drivers have a much greater margin for error.
      That’s kind of it in a nutshell. 🙂

      1. Well, you broke it down very well. And yes, that’s much, much harder. I don’t think I could ever do it. But that’s awesome you can. But then which do you like more? Driving or flying? I would assume flying just because not many can do it. That’s a lot to get ready. No wonder we are way off from having flying cars.

        1. Thank you. I like flying because, well, it’s flying. I wanted to be a pilot from the time I was a small child. Just being able to see the world from that perspective and to roll and turn like a bird – these were always very appealing to me.
          I can’t really choose one over the other. Driving has its own delights, and they can’t be replicated in an aircraft. I like moving vehicles, with or without wings. 🙂
          I don’t think “flying cars” are very realistic. It’s more likely that they would be automated in some way as a type of public transit.

      1. I’ve found that when I reread a favourite book after a long gap, it is different — or perhaps I’m just saying that I am difrerent, and the world is different, and so the book filters through to me differently…

        1. Yes, I have found that, too. It’s often lovely to visit an old book friend, but sometimes they don’t age well (or maybe I haven’t) or as you have pointed out, I am different or the world is and the book filters through differently.

          1. My flirtation with Anais Nin did not survive a reread (soooo precious!), nor did my admiration for Lillian Hellman’s “Unfinished Woman” memoirs — in that latter case, because of subsequent documented evidence of how untruthful she had been… (Yet I still love the concept of being “unfinished,” at any age!)

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