A Very Well Known Poem
2,467--123 ... Centennial Airport, Denver Colorado, USA
This is painted on the wall of the entryway of the building where visitors arrived to see the B-17 and other exhibits. ... Every year a B-17G stops in Denver on it's nationwide tour.
The story of the poem:
"High Flight" has endured as a favourite poem among aviators and, more recently, astronauts. Today it serves as the official poem of the Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Air Force. It must be recited from memory by fourth class cadets (freshmen) at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) where it is also on display in the Cadet Field House.
Portions of this poem appear on many headstones in Arlington National Cemetery.
The poem itself also appears as part of display panels at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, the National Air Force Museum of Canada, Trenton, Ontario, and is the subject of a permanent display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio.
Gen. Robert Lee Scott, Jr. included it in his book God is My Co-Pilot.
Astronaut Michael Collins brought an index card with the poem typed on it on his Gemini 10 flight and included the complete poem in his autobiography Carrying The Fire.
Former NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz quoted the first line of the poem in his book Failure Is Not An Option, at the end of Chapter 16, which deals with the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Ronald Reagan quoted from "High Flight" in his speech (written by Peggy Noonan) that followed the Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986. He quoted: ..."slipped the surly bonds of Earth" to "touch the face of God."
By 1950 there was a primary school reader in Ontario, Canada called High Flight which featured this poem. It had to be memorized by all students in Grade 8.
The annual B-17 stopover here in Denver is sponsored in part by Wings Over The Rockies Air And Space Museum ... www.wingsmuseum.org/ . ... As a volunteer at the museum I get to help a little bit with the activities. ... When not on duty I roam around taking hundreds of pictures.