(engineers should recognize this as a feeble attempt to modify Kipling’s ‘The Hymn of Breaking Strain’…

The Hymn of Flying Strain

(with apologetic thanks to Rudyard Kipling)


Flight manuals precisely tell us in lines of black and white

The load, the power, the speed of air to use when we take flight.

So when our fragile steeds of air lie mangled, scattered on the ground

The blame for loss or error must eventually be found,

And laid upon a man,

Not upon the machine or it’s workings, but a man.


Instruments carefully measure the force, speed and strain

On things that pull, push and spin so we can read them plain.

And know within those careful bounds

We can boldly take to flight yet return safe and sound.


Books of regulation in words of legalese

Tell us what we must and mustn’t do

To please watching authorities

Yet in our daily dealings of things aeronautic we find

God put no words or numbers in view before mankind.

To no paper regulation He made us, to no procedure tied.

No sure track laid before us in what we do or tried.


We bend metal, fuel, plastics, electrons with imagining bold

And dare darkness, storm, height, heat and cold

Until flaws of knowledge, strength or calculation,

Exceeds some hidden, unknown limitation


We who fly must stay inside man’s careful bounds

Avoid those lines undrawn beyond where trouble will be found.

So we may take to the air with wings of earthly measure

Until lift, and power and speed we no longer need treasure

And with God’s blessing fly free from earth’s constricting ties.


Just had this published in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots magazine, so I can unleash it on the unsuspecting world…

Shawn Coyle 9758

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