#191: High Flight
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 windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
—John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
This poem, an anthem of pilots, is also today a reminder of the Challenger 51L Crew, who “slipped the surly bonds of earth… and touched the face of God” on January 28, 1986 when the Challenger Shuttle was lost. This tragedy led to the creation of Challenger Center, www.challenger.org, a lasting legacy of the crew’s mission to reach the next generation.
What a great reminder to all of us that our acts of bravery and dedication can have lasting effects.