Annotated High Flight
(Click on image for artist's page.)
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds1 of earth,
And danced the skies2 on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed,3 and joined the tumbling mirth4
Of sun-split clouds5 -- and done a hundred things6
You have not dreamed of -- Wheeled and soared and swung7
High in the sunlit silence.8 Hov'ring there,9
I've chased the shouting wind10 along, and flung
My eager craft11 through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue12
I've topped the windswept heights13 with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle14 flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,15
Put out my hand,16 and touched the face of God.
- Flight crews must insure that all surly bonds
have been slipped entirely before aircraft taxi or flight is
- During periods of severe sky dancing, the
FASTEN SEATBELT sign must remain illuminated.
- Sunward climbs must not exceed the maximum
permitted aircraft ceiling.
- Passenger aircraft are prohibited from joining
the tumbling mirth.
- Pilots flying through sun-split clouds must
comply with all applicable visual and instrument flight
- These hundred things must be listed on a
Federal Aviation Administration flight plan and approved prior to
- Wheeling, soaring, and swinging will not be
accomplished simultaneously except by pilots in the flight
simulator or in their own aircraft on their own time.
- Be advised that sunlit silence will occur only
when a major engine malfunction has occurred.
- "Hov'ring there" will constitute a highly
reliable signal that a flight emergency is imminent.
- Forecasts of shouting winds are available from
the local Flight Service Station. Encounters with unexpected
shouting winds should be reported by pilots.
- Be forewarned that pilot craft-flinging is a
leading cause of passenger airsickness.
- Should any crew member or passenger experience
delirium while in the burning blue, submit an irregularity report
upon flight termination.
- Windswept heights will be topped by a minimum
of 1,000 feet to prevent massive airsickness-bag use.
- Aircraft engine ingestion of, or impact with,
larks or eagles should be reported to the FAA and the appropriate
aircraft maintenance facility.
- Air Traffic Control (ATC) must issue all
special clearances for treading the high untrespassed sanctity of
- FAA regulations state that no one may
sacrifice aircraft cabin pressure to open aircraft windows or
doors while in flight
Author Unknown. From AIR & Space magazine, August /
The annotations remind me of a book title by Astronaut Collins,
the command module pilot of Apollo 11. He called his version of the
Columbia / Eagle flight Carrying the Fire. Why? How does one
carry fire? Very carefully. If the original High Flight speaks
eloquently of the romance of flight, the annotations speak in a
humorous way of the other side of flight. To take to the air is a
dangerous thing. To do so without all due precautions is