John Gillespie Magee, Jr. Pilot Officer Magee joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in October 1940, at age 18. He went to England to fly Spitfires. After qualifying, he was piloting one on a test flight into the stratosphere at 30,000 feet when he got the inspiration for "High Flight." Magee was killed in action during a dogfight December 11, 1941, at age 19.
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 untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."If we die, we want people to accept it. We hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life." -Gus Grissom