Born To Fly
Tim Griffin

by Tim Griffin, copyright 2014

 

There was a toolshed in Kansas with a ramp up on the roof

And a little girl in a wooden box went flying through the air

Bloody, torn, and grinning though she nearly lost a tooth

And her mother cried, Amelia, what were you doing way up there

Some kids are never satisfied just riding on a swing

It’s the danger in their nature, though it makes a mama cry

The box had been her airplane and a board had been her wing

That’s when Mama knew her girl was born to fly

 

Chorus: You know some can never walk or run, some girls are born to fly

The only music she can hear’s the roaring engine’s sound

And if you let her spread her wings, you know she may die

But it’ll only kill her faster if you keep her on the ground

 

Amelia climbed a lot of trees, she caught a lot of snakes

People wondered at her courage and her skill with tools

One day she told her mother, I’ll do anything it takes

To pay for lessons at an aviation school

Amelia learned mechanics and she learned to fly a plane

Then in ’32 she flew the wide Atlantic on her own

Some said she was a hero, others said she was insane

When she tried to fly around the world alone

(repeat chorus)

 

In May of ’37 she began her famous flight

And her good friend Freddie Noonan rode along to navigate

Touching down in twenty countries, everything was going right

Her Electra Model 10 was running great

But the great Pacific ocean is a huge expanse of blue

And an island with an airfield can be mighty hard to see

They didn’t land at Howland when they were expected to

Two more brave aviators lost at sea

(repeat chorus)

 

There are always lots of questions when our best plans go wrong

And far too many heroes we have lost along the way

We try to keep their memories in our stories and our songs

’Cause they’re the ones who made the world we have today

Amelia never made it home but I guess she would agree

You can live to push the limits though there’s danger when you try

You may one day find an airplane at the bottom of a deep blue sea

But you’ll never ground a girl who’s born to fly

(repeat chorus)

 

…you’ll only kill her faster if you keep her on the ground.

Born To Fly demo

Notes

It is usually more fun to write and read about people who achieved everything they set out to do, but there are good reasons why kids need to know about Amelia Earhart. Besides being a pioneer of aviation at a time when flying was one of the many things a lady simply Did Not Do, Amelia teaches us an important lesson about engineering and maybe about life, and here it is:

We only grow when we push our limits. 

That’s it. So stop worrying about whether your popsicle-stick bridge is perfect, or your pinewood car is the fastest, or if that new song you wrote will impress the judges, or if those new shoes you love are too much for a Thursday. Just bring your best game and build it. Race it. Sing it. Wear it. If you are doing it right then you WILL fail, often and spectacularly. Learn from it and fail better next time. And if your plane goes down, make sure it happens while you are pushing boundaries no one has pushed before.

Today, flying has become so routine that we complain if our plane is even a few minutes late. When I am sitting with my guitar in an airport terminal somewhere, I try to remember what an incredible privilege it is that I get to fly (fly!!!) and not even worry about safety. The reason we get to do this is because of heroes like Amelia, who pushed the limits so we could learn how to do it better.

Here are some academic standards from the NGSS addressed by this song. It may also tie in well to your state’s social studies/history standards for biography, then vs. now, geography, and American history.

Primary Grades (kinder through second):

K-2-ETS1-1. Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool. (Teachers, please use your judgment about how or whether your students are ready to handle a story where the hero dies.)

Upper Elementary (third through fifth):

3-5-ETS1-3. Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

Third Grade:

3-PS2-1. Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.

Fourth Grade:

4-ESS2-2. Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features.

Middle School:

MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.

Chords: C, F, Am, G, C7. Note I usually capo my guitar up a half step on this song to suit my voice, so on the recordings you'll hear it in C#.