USAF Museum
Pre-WWII History
Flying Tigers
Pilot Officer
John G. Magee, Jr.

Pilot Officer John Gillespie MageeHigh Flight was composed by Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr., an American serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was born in Shanghai, China in 1922, the son of missionary parents, Reverend and Mrs. John Gillespie Magee; his father was an American and his mother was originally a British citizen.

He came to the U.S. in 1939 and earned a scholarship to Yale, but in September 1940 he enlisted in the RCAF and was graduated as a pilot. He was sent to England for combat duty in July 1941.

In August or September 1941, Pilot Officer Magee composed High Flight and sent a copy to his parents. Several months later, on December 11, 1941 his Spitfire collided with another plane over England and Magee, only 19 years of age, crashed to his death.

His remains are buried in the churchyard cemetery at Scopwick, Lincolnshire.

"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 wind-swept 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.

John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

This video and naration of the Poem are very special to me!
God Bless America and all who dedicate their lives to serve.


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