MUSIC

7 Air Force song facts that will make you want to go off into the wild blue yonder

Informally referred to as "The Air Force Song," the composition "U.S. Air Force" is a work of lyrical beauty and musical majesty — and it's the one thing that can melt this cold, dark, veteran heart of mine.


Literally the enthusiasm with which I sing this song. Every time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dana D. Hill)

Here are some fun facts about it:

1. It originated because of a competition, per Brig. Gen. Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold's suggestion

Liberty magazine sponsored a musical contest for a spirited composition to become the official Army Air Corps song. Over 700 scores were submitted, but the judging committee (consisting of military spouses) selected Robert MacArthur Crawford's as the winner.

2. The legendary Irving Berlin submitted an entry

Patriotic composer and lyricist Irving Berlin submitted an entry after flying in a B-1B bomber for creative inspiration. His wasn't selected, but his work was later pieced into Moss Hart's Broadway show "Winged Victory," which helped raise funds for the Army Emergency Relief Fund during World War II.   

Also read: The complete hater's guide to the US Air Force

Airpower is sexy and you know it. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Ben Bloker)

3. Crawford himself first debuted it

The song was first introduced at the Cleveland Air Races on Sept. 2, 1939, and was performed by Crawford himself.

4. It has evolved along with the Air Force

The U.S. Air Force wouldn't become its own branch until 1947. At that time, "U.S Air Force" replaced "Army Air Corps" in the lyrics. You can see the full lyrics with original changes below.

5. It made "yonder" happen

Crawford's use of the word "yonder" prompted the Oxford English Dictionary to expand the word's definition to include "the far and trackless distance."

6. It went to the moon on Apollo 15

Air Force Colonel David R. Scott and Lieutenant Colonel James B. Irwin carried the original first page of Crawford's score to the moon on July 30, 1971.

7. It was a helluva rebel

For original radio and television versions, the scandalous use of  "helluva" was stricken and "terrible" was substituted instead.

SAGEmovieproductions | YouTube

Here are the original and current lyrics. The words in brackets are shouted with gusto and the italicized words replace the parenthesized words of the 1939 original:

Verse 1 (main melody)

Off we go into the wild blue yonder, climbing high into the sun;

Here they come, zooming to meet our thunder, at 'em, boys, give'er the gun! [give'er the gun, hey (now)!]

Down we dive, spouting our flame from under, off with (on) one helleva roar (course),

We live in fame or go down in flame, hey! Nothing'll stop the US Air Force (Army Air Corps)

Verse 2 (main melody)

Minds of men fashioned a crate of thunder, sent it high into the blue;

Hands of men blasted the world asunder; How they lived, God only knew, hey! [God only new, then!]

Souls of men dreaming of skies to conquer, gave us (our) wings, ever to soar (every resource)!

With scouts (jets) before and Bombers (Bombs) galore, Nothing'll stop the US Air Force (Army Air Corps)

Verse 3 (bridge)

Here's a toast to the host of those who love the vastness of the sky,

To a friend we send a message of his brother men who fly,

We drink to those who gave their all of old:

Then down we roar to score the rainbow's pot of gold.

A toast to the host of the men we boast, the US Air Force (Army Air Corps). ZOOM.

Verse 4 (main melody)

Off we go into the wild sky yonder, Keep the wings level and true;

If you'd live to be a gray haired wonder, keep the nose out of the blue [out of the blue, hey!].

Flying men, guarding our nation's borders, we'll be there followed by more (ever on course)!

In each echelon, we carry on, Hey! Nothing'll stop the US Air Force (Army Air Corps)

GEAR & TECH

6 of the most notable pre-M16 military guns

Throughout history, the U.S. Military has used a wide variety of guns to win its battles. Prior to the M16, there were several weapons used across the service throughout some of the most devastating wars the world has ever seen.

Here are some of those weapons:

Keep reading... Show less
Articles

How R. Lee Ermey's Hollywood break is an inspiration to us all

While there have been many outstanding actors and celebrities who have raised their right hand, there has never been a veteran who could finger point his way to the top of Hollywood stardom quite like the late great Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Ermey.

Keep reading... Show less
International

China and the US could end up in a war – here's what would happen

It's unlikely that the U.S.-China trade dispute is going to escalate to a full-scale war any time soon — but it's not impossible. Neither side is inclined to go to war with the other, but a war of that scale is what both plan to fight. All it would take is one bungled crisis, one itchy trigger finger, one malfunctioning automated defense system and the entire region could become a war zone.

Keep reading... Show less
Lists

Here are the best military photos for the week of April 20th

The military is always evolving and new things happen every day. With each changes comes a new set of challenges and new opportunities to succeed. Thankfully, there are many talented photographers in the community that capture these struggles and triumphs.

Keep reading... Show less
History

5 ways troops accidentally 'blue falcon' the rest of the platoon

Every now and then, the pricks known as 'Blue Falcons' come and ruin things for everyone else. They break the rules and make everyone else suffer. They rat out their brothers- and sisters-in-arms. They even damage the reputation of others to make themselves look better.

Keep reading... Show less
Articles

Why I'm thrilled Brie Larson will play Captain Marvel

Look, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is really lighting my fires when it comes to their female superheroes.

When Marvel Studios announced they would be bringing Captain Marvel to the big screen, I was thrilled. I was also immediately invested and my expectations shot through the roof.

Keep reading... Show less
History

This is how American pilots used drop tanks as bombs during WWII

If you pay attention, you might sometimes see long, cigar-shaped pods firmly attached to the undersides of classic fighter and attack aircraft, sometimes with unit markings on them.

Known as "drop tanks," these simple devices extend the range of the aircraft they're hooked up to by carrying extra usable fuel. Back during World War II, however, attack pilots found a secondary use for drop tanks as improvised bombs, used to bombard enemy ground positions.

Keep reading... Show less

The hilarious ways Chinese police are combating jaywalkers

China is so desperate to stop jaywalkers it has turned to spraying them with water.

In Daye, in the central Hubei province, one pedestrian crossing has had a number of bright yellow bollards installed that spray wayward pedestrians' feet with water mist.

Keep reading... Show less