Low Flight

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As High Flight is for fixed-wing pilots, Low Flight is the poem for helicopter pilots. Written in 1972, it is the unofficial poem of Army Aviation and USMC helicopter pilots. "Low Flight" reverses the perspective from the soaring airplane pilot to the 50 foot AGL helicopter pilot. Its author is unknown.[1][2]

The poem[edit]


Oh, I've slipped the surly bonds of earth
And hovered out of ground effect on semi-rigid blades;
Earthward I've auto'ed and met the rising brush of non-paved terrain
And done a thousand things you would never care to
Skidded and dropped and flared
Low in the heat soaked roar.
Confined there, I've chased the earthbound traffic
And lost the race to insignificant headwinds;
Forward and up a little in ground effect
I've topped the General's hedge with drooping turns
Where never Skyhawk or even Phantom flew.
Shaking and pulling collective,
I've lumbered The low untresspassed halls of victor airways,
Put out my hand and touched a tree.


Alternate versions[edit]

Another version, dedicated to those who fly close air support for ground forces - REALLY close air, the following is from the prospective of flying 50 feet AGL at 400 KIAS (knots indicated airspeed).


Oh, I've slipped the swirling clouds of dust
A few feet from the dirt.
I have flown my plane low enough
To make my bottom hurt.
I've raced over desert, hills, through valleys,
And mountain passes too.
Frolicked in the trees
Where only gray squirrels flew.

Chasing cows along the way,
Disturbing ram and ewe.
I've done a hundred other things
You damned well shouldn't do.
I have smacked the tiny sparrow,
Bluebird, robin, and the rest.
Dragged vorticies through branches
Throwing eggs out of their nests.

I've hurled through total darkness
Just as blind as I could be,
And spent the night in terror
Of things I could not see.
I've turned my eyes to heaven
Sweating bullets through the flight,
Reached out my hand and pressed-to-test
—the Master Caution light.

C-130 Version

Low Flight

Oh, I have slipped through
swirling clouds of dust,
A few feet from the dirt,
I've flown the C-130 low enough,
To make my bottom hurt.

I've flown in the desert, hills and valleys,
Mountains too,
Frolicked in the trees,
Where only flying squirrels flew.

Chased the frightened cows along,
Disturbed the ram and ewe,
And done a hundred other things
That you'd not care to do.

I've smacked the tiny sparrow,
Bluebird, robin, all the rest,
I've ingested baby eagles,
Simply sucked them from their nest.

I've streaked through total darkness,
Just the other guys and me,
And spent the night in terror of
Things I could not see.

I turned my eyes to heaven,
As I sweated through the flight,
Put out my hand and touched,
The Fire Warning Light.

Author unknown


  1. ^ "Low Flight". USMC Combat Helicopter Association. March 26, 2005. [permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b Hornung, Jan (2002). "Low Flight". Kiss the Sky: Helicopter Tales. Lincoln, Nebraska: Writers Club Press. p. 139. ISBN 0-595-22896-8.