Aviation Poems

Ode to a C-141

I never fully understood his feelings for her. He loved her and I had to share him with her. She was hard and cold yet he loved her and put his life in her hands every time he boarded her.

She carried him many, many miles, to and from everywhere in the world.

At times he would ask her to carry the burden of completing a mission with an engine shut down and she would. Hydraulic fluid could run down her belly, or her landing gear would fail, yet, as he spoke her language she would come through and bring him home.

He knew her needs and would go to her defense when no one else would. It didn't matter ... she was a part of him.

-----------They knew each other---------

As he sat at her panel and flipped her switches they became one. He touched her - she responded. He felt her fluids run, her power build and a surge would go through him as if life itself joined them.

She never made demands - just answered his call.

This special lady sat proudly as troops ran to her sanctity. She hauled them, dropped them and supplied them. She brought home the wounded and gave comrades their final ride home.

A round she never fired even when her sides were peppered by enemy fire as she sat with engines running to load Marines in Laos, babies in Vietnam, Students in Granada or troops during Desert Storm.

When asked she would land on Arctic ice, desert sand, or sub-standard runways in South America. She would sit and wait for the next mission of mercy, ask no questions, but give it her all....

Her name is STARLIFTER. She takes to the sky like an eagle and dances on clouds like a ballerina ---She touches the face of God---


By Lynda Jane Slaughter Case

Widow of CMSgt William (Bill) L. Case III

Written in honor of the C-141

Lynda Case August 10, 1940 - February 11, 2010

Posted with permission of Pat Case

Retired Aviators

Once the wings go on, they never come off, whether they can be seen, or not.

It fuses to the soul through adversity, fear and adrenaline and no one who has ever worn them with pride, integrity and guts, can ever sleep through the ` call of the wild ` that wafts through bedroom windows in the deep of the night.

When a good pilot (crew member) leaves the `job' and retires, many are jealous, some are pleased and yet others, who may have already retired, wonder.

We wonder if he knows what he is leaving behind, because we already know.

We know, for example, that after a lifetime of camaraderie that few experience, it will remain as a longing for those past times.

We know in the world of flying, there is a fellowship which lasts long after the flight suits are hung up in the back of the closet.

We know even if he throws them away, they will be on him with every step and breath that remains in his life.

We also know how the very bearing of the man speaks of what he was and in his heart still is.

Because we fly, we envy no man on earth.

Author ~ Unknown

The Forgotten Man

By

1/Lt Joe E. Seward

Through the history of world aviation

Many names have come to the fore,

Great deeds of the past in our memory will last

As they are followed by more and more.

When man first started his labor

In his quest to conquer the sky

He was designer, mechanic, and pilot,

And he built a machine that would fly.

But somehow the order got twisted,

And then in the public’s eye,

The man who got all the glory

Was the man who knew how to fly.

The pilot was everyone’s hero,

He was brave, he was bold, he was grand,

As he stood by his battered old biplane

With his goggles and helmet in hand.

To be sure, these pilots all earned it,

To fly then you had to have guts.

And they blazed their names in the hall of fame

On wings with bailing wire struts.

But for each of these flying heroes

There were thousands of little renown,

And these were the men who worked on the planes

But kept their feet on the ground.

We all know the name of Lindbergh,

And we’ve read of his flight into fame,

But think, if you can, of his maintenance man,

Can you remember his name?

And think of our wartime heroes,

Gabreski, Jabara, and Scott.

Can you tell me the names of their crew chiefs?

A thousand to one you cannot.

Now pilots are highly trained people,

And wings are not easily won,

But without the work of the maintenance man

Our pilots would march with a gun.

So when you see mighty jet aircraft

As they mark their paths through the air,

The grease-stained man with the wrench in his hand

Is the man who put them there.

High Flight

John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (1922–41)

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 nor 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.

ATTRIBUTION: JOHN G. MAGEE, JR., “High Flight,” September 3, 1941.

Magee was born in Shanghai, China, of missionary parents—an American father and an English mother—and spoke Chinese before English. He was educated at Rugby school in England and at Avon Old Farms School in Connecticut. He won a scholarship to Yale, but instead joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in late 1940, trained in Canada, and was sent to Britain. He flew in a Spitfire squadron and was killed on a routine training mission on December 11, 1941. The sonnet above was sent to his parents written on the back of a letter which said, “I am enclosing a verse I wrote the other day. It started at 30,000 feet, and was finished soon after I landed.” He also wrote of his course ending soon and of his then going on operations, and added, “I think we are very lucky as we shall just be in time for the autumn blitzes (which are certain to come).”

Magee’s parents lived in Washington, D.C., at the time of his death, and the sonnet came to the attention of Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish. He acclaimed Magee the first poet of the War, and included the poem in an exhibition of poems of “faith and freedom” at the Library of Congress in February 1942. The poem was then widely reprinted, and the R. C. A. F. distributed plaques with the words of the poem to all airfields and training stations.

The reprintings vary in punctuation, capitalization, and indentation from the original manuscript, which is in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. Some portions are faded and difficult to read, but the version above follows Magee’s as exactly as can be made out, following his pencilled note on another poem, “If anyone should want this please see that it is accurately copied, capitalized, and punctuated.” Nearly all versions use “…even eagle,” but to the editor’s careful scrutiny, it was “ever,” formed exactly like the preceding “never.”

President Ronald Reagan quotes from the first and last lines in a televised address to the nation after the space shuttle Challenger exploded, January 28, 1986.—Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, February 3, 1986, p. 105.