Skip to main content
Nora Codes

Fly On, Columbia! (Fly Columbia II)

Leonora Tindall 2023/08/28

“Fly, Columbia” is a deeply hopeful song. Written in 1981 by Diana Gallagher, Leslie Fish’s performance on Minus Ten and Counting was one of the first filk recordings that really captured me. The chorus names OV-102 “the promise of better days to come”, and blesses her to “Sail an orbit free, track the moon and chase the sun.”

Yet, that was not her fate, as we know all too well.

When I heard The Longest Johns cover “Roll Northumbria”, I immediately thought of this song, and this ship; so I set out to filk it.

Fly On, Columbia! (Fly Columbia II)

(to the tune of Roll Northumbria, by The Dreadnaughts)

’twas in seventy-five ’neath the Palmdale sun
That work on the queen of the skies was begun
We built her from tungsten and carbon long-spun
Fly, Columbia, fly

For though lunar missions had come to an end
We still had our place in the stars to defend
On pillars of flame to the sky she’d ascend

Fly, Columbia, fly, me boys
Fly, Columbia, fly
And it’s one for dark sky above
Two for the crewfolk we love
And it’s three for the millions that watch from below
Fly on, Columbia
Fly, Columbia, fly

Challenger, Enterprise, Buran and all
She was the first; with her they’d stand or fall
From the Vandenberg desert through the East’s ocean squalls
Fly, Columbia, fly

In three years and two thousand her engines did burn
And seven doomed spacers did see the Earth turn
As we watched them drift down with naive unconcern

So come all eager spacers who yearn for the sky
And beware of the small thing that passes your eye
Lest the powers above your return will deny
Fly, Columbia, fly

Fifteen minutes from land, a dread silence o’ercame
For the space program’s heart ne’er again was the same
And seven good spacers were lost to the flame

As a reminder, these lyrics, like everything on this site, are licensed CC-BY-SA. That means you can copy them, remix them, and sell things based on them, so long as you retain an attribution notice and the CC-BY-SA license. Note that the tune is not so licensed.