Aircew Flight pilots Poetry Transport Travel

The Halcyon Days of Flying

Halcyon Days

The Halcyon days of flying are past,
When forty five knots was considered too fast,
When aircraft were made out of fabric and wood,
And cockpits were open – no Plexiglass hood.

A hardy breed, those pioneer flyers,
Exposed to the rain, and the wind in the wires,
Their only guide for keeping for keeping on track,
We’re their two old faithfuls – a compass and map.

Those early machines that aspired to flight,
We’re nothing more really, than a motorised kite,
When the cardinal rule book was terribly thin,
With just two commandments – don’t stall and don’t spin.

Men were starting to probe the mysterious sky,
And a very large number were sadly. To die,
Others came back having had a bad fright,
Giving the warning that “Aeroplanes bite!”

As I sit in my cockpit with its array of dials,
And see the flight manual, (two very large files)
With its gyros and gauges, and radio stack,
I muse we’ve come a long way, and there’s no going back.

So wistful, at dusk, I leave the flight line,
Wishing I’d flown in that glorious time,
So, back to the club house for one or two beers,
And to the pioneer fliers, raise my glass and say “Cheers!”

Mark Charlwood
Pilot, Instructor, Poet.

Aircew Flight pilots Poetry war


Todays Target – Schweinfurt


He lies slumped in his chair, a young lad in his teens,
With an accent that comes from the Bronx, or from Queens,
Far away from the town and the Girl he adores,
Stuck on our little island, with its grim war-torn shores

There are many more like him, that Uncle Sam sends,
All scattered round bases in the barren cold fens,
They’re miserable, homesick, and longing for home,
Hundreds together, but each one alone

They play ball, horse around, all acting the fool,
Looking for sure like they all just left school,
Off to the village to a dance, and some fun,
To be stopped in the street, by kids wanting gum

A kiss from a girl, and some warm frothy beer,
Games of darts with the yokels, in the snug, for some cheer,
The wail of the sirens, A torch lit by some moron,
“Put that light out you fool, don’t you know there’s a war on”?

The debaggings and silly pranks done for a lark,
The boozy walk back to the camp in the dark,
The glances at aircraft, all standing forlorn,
By the shelters and bomb dumps, just waiting for dawn

By dawns early light, with their cigarettes lit,
They wander to briefing, fully dressed in their kit,
Their laughter is brittle, their voices too high,
Their stress is the demon that waits in the sky

In the briefing the officers outline the attack,
An innocent ribbon of red on the map,
Just dodge the fighters, ignore all the Flak,
A picnic to Schweinfurt, just out there and back.

So, this is the big one, no ten cent rehearsal,
And in clattering buses, they lurch to dispersal,
Where Miss Sally Jones, is now stealing the scene,
A Lumbering, ponderous B Seventeen

With catcalls and insults, the crews climb aboard,
Each doing his best to look casual and bored,
With banter, and laughter, they face the attack,
Each knowing that some will not make it back
So, into the sky, with its sun dappled light,
A wonderful, frightening, soul-numbing sight,
They form up overhead, two hundred or more,
And rip up the silence with their Wright Cyclone roar

Then as one mass, they head off to the East,
Once more to rain bombs on the head of the beast,
Face up to hells cauldron, a sky of hot lead,
These schoolboys who laugh, and make fun of their dread

At the coast they are joined, by their “little friends”,
Whose sleek Mustang fighters are there to defend,
The terrible cargo they take to the foe,
Who’s fighting for life in the country below,

“Bombs gone” is the cry they’ve been longing to hear,
So they can head back to the base, and to a well deserved beer,
Some trailing smoke, with gear hanging down,
They make like the baddies, and “Get outta town”

Limping back, battling hard against enemy fighters,
They are met by the Spitfires, who take care of the blighters,
Over the hedge – chop the power, plonk it down fast,
And abandon the wreckage, where it stops on the grass

Savouring the thrill of still being alive,
With sad epitaphs for those who didn’t survive,
They wander back to their home on the fen
The cream of the crop, they’re Uncle Sam’s Men


Mark Charlwood
22nd October 2010
















Airport Flight Humour Poetry Travel

A conversation overheard at Lost Baggage at Heathrow Airport, Terminal 4

You’re bag’s been lost, oh deary me, now that’s an awful shame,
You say that it was with you sir, when you got aboard the ‘plane,
Before we go much further sir, let’s get some details down,
Now, what’s the style and size sir, and was it black or brown,
Was it made of plastic sir, oh, pardon me it’s hide<em<,
And without being rude, sir, what was packed inside,
Er…where did you depart sir, oh, you just came in from Rome,
The chances are, your bag sir, has gone on to Cologne,
You've gone a funny colour sir, I think you're going to choke,
Please don't get excited sir, it's just my little joke,
Please don't be offensive sir, I'm trying to do my best,
And you bellowing and shouting, sir, will only get you stressed,
Go up to the restaurant, sir, and have a cup of tea,
I'm sure I'll work much better, sir, if you leave it all to me,
It's no use complaining to me sir,I'm just working hard,
If you really want to moan sir, then please fill in this card,
I have just one last question, sir, and I know it's rude to pry,
But if you can't take a joke, sir, why the blazes did you fly?

Written 28/09/1989

Flight Humour Poetry

An Ode to the Cessna C-152 Airplane

The Cessna 152 design,
Is not, by any means, sublime,
With clumsy struts, and angled fin,
And fuselage, made out of tin,
A cabin, small, with seats for two,
You really have to know your crew,
For safety’s sake, may God be praised,
The undercarriage can’t be raised,
Full flaps droop down, forty degrees,
Like twin barn doors, into the breeze,
The seats move smoothly, fore and aft,
(If the catch unlocks, this happens fast!)
The cabin vents are curious things,
Like aerosols, stuck in the wings,
They’re firmly fixed, without a doubt,
Until you climb, the they pop out,
These things you’ll recognise, and more,
But what’s the rear view mirror for,
This little ‘plane has given much,
Withstood the student pilot’s touch,
And carried me through miles of sky,
And in her charge I learnt to fly,
She’s no classic, that much is true,
But deep down, she’s great, my 152

Flight Poetry

My Big Fat Virgin

I’ve been away from home so long, I strayed so far away,
I’m lonely, sad, and dead inside, I hate to feel this way,
I miss the town, I miss the pub, I miss the small town style,
I miss those happy Friday nights, I miss your loving smile,

So now I seek some solace, an escape from where I am,
To find some secret pleasures, gain release and burst the dam,
Looking for a big fat virgin, to take my blues away,
I’m hunting for that virgin, need to join her now, today

So big fat virgin, lift me up, away towards the stars,
And head me out to Neptune, or Jupiter or Mars,
Blow my mind, just take me home, inside you I float to heaven,
You big bad girl, you take me high, you mighty seven four seven