MA Aviation Historical Society Inc.
PO Box 457
Wakefield MA 01880-0957

Telephone: 781.662.1253


Aviation Legends, Lore & Poetry


An Airman’s Grace & Father MacGillivray
By Father John W. MacGillivray   EAA 3974, (Aug. 30, 1923 – Feb. 5, 1995)


Lord of the thunderhead and sky
You placed in us the will to fly,
You taught our hand speed, skill and grace
To soar beyond our dwelling place.

You shared with us the eagle’s view,
 The right to soar as eagle’s do,
The right to call the clouds  our home,
And grateful, through your heavens roam.
May we assembled here tonight,
And all who love the thrill of flight,
Recall with twofold gratitude,
Your gift of wings, your gift of food.



Fellowship of Flight
By Father John W. MacGillivray,

Lord and maker of all things,
Bless the hands that fashion wings,
Forming Beauty, Faith and Hope,
Of lowly things, like wood and dope.
Bless each fresh new eager span
Sprung from careful thought and plan;
Bless the ancient, tried and true
That ventured first through Heaven’s blue.
May this fellowship of Flight,
Choose what’s best, but first what’s right.
United here, through flight, may we
Together, share Eternity.


Father John MacGillivray was Roman Catholic priest from the fishing village of Arisaig,   Antigonish County,  Nova Scotia.  He was an active pilot and was a frequent visitor to flyins in MA, N.E.,the U.S. and Canada.  A chaplain for the National EAA, Father Mac Gillivray was also a chaplain in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He retired to Antigonish, Nova Scotia and lived there until his death in 1995.


Mother Shipton's Prophecy


December 8, 1911

George E. Kelly, Esq.,
Concord, Massachusetts

Dear Mr. Kelly;-

In accordance with your request of this morning for a copy of “Mother Shipton’s Prophacy”, please accept same as I have it, and which is, I think, correct.

                        Carriages without horses shall go,
                        And accidents fill the world with woe;
                        Around the world thoughts shall fly
                        In the twinkling of an eye.
                        Waters shall yet more wonders do,
                        Now stranger, yet shall it be true;
                        The world upside down shall be
                        And gold be found at the root of tree.
                        Through hills man shall ride
                        And no horse nor ass be at his side;
                        Under water man shall walk,
                        Shall ride, shall sleep, shall talk.
                        In the air men shall be seen
                        In white, in black, in green;
                        Iron in the water shall float
                        As easily as a wooden boat.
                        God shall be found mid stone
                        In a land that’s now unknown;
                        Fire and water shall wonders do.
                        England shall at last admit a Jew.
                        And the world to an end shall come
                        In eighteen hundred and eighty-one.

It is believed that these lines were first published in England in the year 1545.

Yours Truly,
William Carroll Hill,

Corresponding Secretary
Aero Club of New England   


MAHS Note: At the beginning of the 20th Century Mother Shipton’s prophecies circulated in the popular press and in aviation and transportation world because of its references to flight and flying, i.e. “in the air men shall be seen in white, black, in green”; about automobiles, “carriages without horses shall go”; and of ships made of iron.  Copies are found in the papers of early aeronautical experimenters. The author, Ursula Southeil (c.1488–1561) (her name also spelt as Ursula SouthillUrsula Soothtell or Ursula Sontheil), was better known as Mother Shipton. She was known as a English soothsayer and prophetess. The first complete publication of her prophecies, appeared in 1641, eighty years after her reported death, and contained a number of mainly regional predictions, but and two prophetic verses – neither of which in the original foretold the End of the World, despite widespread assumptions to that effect.



An Airman Reflects His Past and Future


When I was through with war and strife and finished with the army,
I said, “Henceforth my style of life is one that cannot harm me;
No, not for me the speedy plane I used to spot the Hun with;
A second little Ford will do to have my fun with.
This thing of dodging through the skies has made me tense and nervous.
I’ll make my tours in Pullman trains when I am through the service .
And bump to work in trolley cars like other city dwellers,
And thank my stars I’m not behind the blast of air-propellers.

But now---I’m thinking of the bus I used to roam the sky in.
That roaring, darting combat Spad that once was mine to fly in.
For she was swift and sure and true, a lulu and a darling.
And in my dreams I zoom aloft, I hear the motor snarling.
Ah, that was living like a man! A game of zest and danger.
While here, in all this humdrum round I feel myself a stranger.
Does someone seek the rainbow’s end---the gold that lurks below there?
If   I can have a plane to drive, I’ll take the chance and go there!
A plane that’s trim and swift and slim, as through the clouds I weave her
And till I crash in one last smash, you won’t get me to leave her!
                                                                          Berton Braley
                                                                            1882- 1966
  Poet and Writer, Foreign Correspondent during WW1 in Europe 1916-1919


V-J Day


On the tallest day in time the dead came back.
Clouds met us in the pastures past a world.
By shortwave the releases of a rack
Exploded on the interphone’s new word.

Halfway past Iwo we jettisoned to sea
Our gift of bombs like tears and tears like bombs
To spring a frolic fountain daintily
Out of the blue metallic seas of doom.

No fire-shot cloud pursued us going home.
No cities cringed and wallowed in the flame.
Far out to sea a blank millennium
Changed us alive, and left us still the same.

Lightened, we banked like jays, antennae squawking.
The four wild metal halos of our props
 Blurred into time. The interphone was talking
Abracadabra to the cumulus tops:

Drumbeat three-one to Yearsend---loud and clear,
Angels one-two, on course at one-six-nine.
Magellan to Balboa. Propwash to Century.
How do you read me? Bombay to Valentine.

Fading and out. And all the dead were homing.
Wisecrack to Halfmast. Doom to Memory)
On the tallest day in time we saw them coming,
Wheels jammed and flaming on a metal sea.

                                                John Ciardi
     The Collected Poems of John Ciardi


John Ciardi (1916-1986) was born in Boston’s North End and grew up in Medford, MA. He graduated from Tufts University in 1938 and received his masters degree from the University of Michigan in 1939.  He taught briefly at the University of Kansas City before joining the United States Army Air Forces in 1942, becoming a gunner on B-29s and flying some twenty missions over Japan before being transferred to desk duty in 1945. He was discharged in October 1945 with the rank of Technical Sergeant and with both the Air Medal and Oak Leaf Cluster.[2] Ciardi's war diary, Saipan, was published posthumously in 1988.


Hanscom Air Field


All day the great planes gingerly descend
an invisible staircase, holding up
their skirts and dignity like great ladies
 in technicolor histories, or reascend,
their noses needling upward like a compass
into a wild blue vacuum,
leaving everything in confusion behind: 

In some such self-deceiving light as this
we’ll view the air force base when moved away
from where its sleepless eye revolves all night.
we’ll smile and recollect it conversationally---
tell with what ease the silver planes dropped down
or how they, weightless, rose above.
our roof. We’ll pass it with sugar and cream,

forever sheltered from this moment’s sick
surprise that we have lived with terror, with pride,
the wounded god circling the globe, never resting,
that in the morning and the evening we have heard
his cry, have seen him drag his silver wings
whining with anguish like a huge fly seeking to lay its deadly eggs.

                                                     Robert Siegel


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