When Anglo-American poet John Magee was killed in a mid-air collision over Lincolnshire in December 1941, aged just 19, he left behind a sonnet started, he claimed, 'at 30,000 feet and finished soon after (he) landed'. The poem, High Flight, has become the most celebrated poem about the intoxication of flying.
Sean Street traces the trajectory of the poem and its poet from Rugby School through the Library of Congress and the space race to Ronald Reagan's tribute to the victims of the Challenger space shuttle disaster and beyond, into a unique place in the popular imagination.
The programme includes contributions from Andrew Motion, veterans of the Royal Canadian Air Force, composer Bob Chilcott and Library of Congress archivist Cheryl Fox.
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.
Sean Street traces the trajectory of John Magee's poem High Flight.