Category: Pilots



I am not immune to the desire
to wind the stem of old time back
and with as much success as most

Except when the Concorde flew the sky
and I, pilot to pilot in the cockpit stood
and watched the earth reverse for me
on a flight from London to DC

What have I done you ask
with the slice of time I stole

Saved it in a bank of cloud
above the ocean eight miles up
where I can go if I ever wish
to write a check for a smile or a kiss



In the little plane, just the pilot and me
up up up into the prairie air

Climbing and gliding and floating free
high above the county fair

The town looked small from way up there
but hell… it looked small from anywhere

It was the changing people into ants
that I loved the best and wanted again

Being on the wrong side of relative bigness
had been causing me a lot of pain



John Gillespie Magee
slipped the surly bonds of earth
reached out and touched the face of God

Planes are bigger and faster now
I in my Aero Commander
commander of the air

Climbing at dusk have set the sun
on the lip of the world
and held it there

Have rode the Concorde
faster than the speed of sound
and faster than the earth goes round
that can lift it up where it went down

And there are times I’d best the lark
to try to hold or yet turn back
baby’s smiles and love’s first spark

I think Magee, the reverence would see
as we all fight the dying of the light
and try to touch the Sistine finger
a little longer before night



A poet will try to dissect the world
and he’ll try to show you each part
and he’ll write it all down with a pen
that he’s dipped in an old carin’ heart

While pilots have the eyes of a hawk
and a strut in the way that they walk
and they give all that’s in them to give
and they live every moment they live

And most cowboys are gentle not loud
and they’re not all that good in a crowd
and they talk like they’re about half asleep
but what they know boys and girls
they know deep



Clouds are a part of living
and if you fly, a big part of staying alive

I remember an airport and the sky closing behind me
a brand new pilot’s license and no instrument time
a terrible, deadly, damn fool policy
I hope they’ve changed it

I had a few lessons from my brother
he told me about believing the instruments

Of course I didn’t really, actually, believe them
but I did follow the one that said “we’re right side up”

When my inner ear said; “you’re not,” “turn,” “turn or die”

And I throttled back and let the plane sink into the dark
we might land or hit something at less than full speed
and then there was a little space and a little light
and a landmark, and the lost ground was found

And the time flying from Calgary to Salt Lake
with two cloud layers twenty feet apart
and the big twin flying V.F.R. between
and the feeling in my heart

But the best is a grey cloudy day
when the whole world is too sad to play
and old mother nature seems to wring out her mop
and you have a little courage and you know

That there’s no place like the light
when you break out on top



Eight triple one Gulf, this is seventy eight Tango Sierra
how would you like to drop in to Grand Canyon airport?

We were flying Calgary-Phoenix; he Phoenix-Sun Valley
a friend had just lost an engine. He needed to land
and wanted a ride to Phoenix.

I didn’t know the runway but I followed him in

It’s not a very long runway and at the end
are some pretty big trees.

I was low and slow in the old Twin Commander
the one with the geared engines

The ones you always had to handle oh so gentle
like your throttles were a handful of eggs

So I played the game and brought in the power easy

Too slow and you eat the trees
too fast and you eat the pistons, and the trees

And it was a mighty pretty runway
when you were standing on the ground

On the way back from Phoenix It was late afternoon and we were lured
by the siren beauty of the Grand Canyon.

Right turn diversion, West to East as slow as we could go
Just below the rim the whole length of it
watching the magic colors as the sun
behind us lit up the canyon walls

Almost out of fuel we finally pulled ourselves away and
turned north to find a runway.

The wind was from the west and we had to land into the
blinding light of the sun just before it went down.

It was as if it had turned on us, this light that had made us
feel so alive, (although we had really turned on it) and was
about to kill us now because we didn’t have enough fuel to
go around and we had to face it
straight on.

With two pilot passengers looking out the side windows and
calling out heights and directions, and a little luck we got
down. And we felt good again, very good.

Always the turnings, always the changing, always the other
side of the coin. So many times in that part
of my life it seemed that the beauty and the
pleasure were but a thin membrane away
from the fear and the danger.