Fighter Pilot Songs

While I have never been in a position where fellow pilots have demanded profanity in my speech (some have even complimented my ability to form a grammatically correct sentence without it), I have been placed in positions where fellow pilots have insisted that I participate in singing fighter pilot songs.  Unfortunately, the decisions surrounding pilot songs are more difficult to make.  The F-16 B-course students were responsible for providing “entertainment” for the instructors at pilot meetings.  This entertainment necessitated a pilot song or two.  In other units, every fighter pilot event ended with stirring renditions of traditional fighter pilot songs.  In each case, there was tremendous pressure to join in on the singing to “support my wingmen” and squadron mates.  Regardless of the strength of tradition in fighter pilot songs, the profanity, vulgarity, and glorification of evil in fighter pilot songs makes them an anathema to the Christian spirit.  Because of their content, I believe that a Christian should not participate in singing them.

The true question is how much he allows himself to be around other pilots who are singing those songs.  Their vulgar lyrics are set to familiar and catchy tunes; what goes in, even if only passively, will invariably attempt to come out.  If a Christian attends events in which fighter pilot songs are sung, he will likely find himself whistling their tune later even if he did not participate in the singing.  On the other hand, if he decides to avoid all fighter pilot events in which they sing songs he may not be able to attend any events at all.  When routine and structure allow, he may be able to walk out of the room as the songs are sung, but even that may have a negative impact on the other pilots.  There is a delicate balance between exposure to immoral songs and a Christian fighter pilot segregating himself from other pilots to avoid them.  That balance has become more difficult with the rising popularity of fighter pilots songs.  Dos Gringos have revived the genre beyond the Air Force fighter pilot community.  Navy crews, foreign pilots, and many others have posted their signs of support on the duo’s website.  In an unfortunate development, crew chiefs—young airmen and sergeants who crew the maintenance on fighter jets—have also acquired a taste for this fighter pilot vice.

If the right situation presents itself, there may be a place that a Christian fighter pilot can meet the other pilots:  there are a few—just a few—little known fighter pilot songs that contain no profanity, no sexual references, and do not glorify that which God hates.  If a Christian pilot can get his fellow fighter pilots to join him in a rousing performance of such a fighter pilot song, one that calls on history and tradition without stooping to worldly vices, then he may be able to demonstrate that he doesn’t object to the tradition, just the means in which the tradition is communicated.  Just as Dos Gringos have reinvigorated the genre of fighter pilot songs, I once thought of trying to do the same with clean songs; unfortunately, I have no talent when it comes to writing witty and catchy songs, never mind trying to find clean fighter pilot topics.  One unit asked a musically-inclined pilot to write a clean version of our squadron song; commonly referred to as the “unclassified” version, it was family friendly in verbiage and topic.  Some pilots objected—it was “too clean” to be a real fighter pilot song—but as a whole it was accepted as the unit anthem, in an “unclassified” environment.

There are several collections of fighter pilot songs, though most are out of print and difficult to obtain.  Two are available through Dick Jonas’ website, and because of my lack of desire to patronize his site I have not attempted to order one from him.  Otherwise, I have been unable to find and review any collection of fighter pilot songs.  The most likely candidates for those who would like to learn “clean” fighter pilot songs would be to find Wild Blue Yonder: Songs of the Air Force (Volume 1) by C. W. Getz (Editor), Redwood Press (June 1, 1981), or Army Air Force Lyrics: A Collection of WW II U.S. Army Air Force Marching Songs, Poems, and Parodies to Popular Songs of the Period and the Past by J.K. Havener, Aero Pub Inc (June 1, 1985).  Wild Blue Yonder Volume 2 claims to have bawdy pilot songs, which at least implies that Volume 1, which claims to have lyrics to some 600 songs, may be cleaner.  Army Air Force Lyrics simply sounds as though it may have songs of a more historical nature, though there are probably less than desirable lyrics in there as well.  I have reviewed neither, and neither are readily available due to limited publication.

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  • Several years ago I did a show for the 8th Fighter Wing. At the ‘jams and jellies’ table (merchandise sales) a fellow Wolfpack alumnus suggested I produce a ‘clean’ album he could play for his family. I took him to heart. I researched my repertoire and found 50 or so songs with no profanity, no sexual innuendo, and no toilet humor. With forty of them, I produced two family-friendly CDs, “Family Album 1” and “Family Album 2.” See my website. At the website you’ll also find the Bill Getz “Wild Blue Yonder” books 1 & 2. You might also take a look at Book 1 of my philosophical memoirs. Use caution; be sure to read the introductory material on family suitability. I wish I knew your name and who you are. I suspect we have much in common. I was brought up in the deep South by devout Christian parents. In my teens and into my twenties, I served several congregations as a Christian minister. I preached the Gospel and taught Sunday School; I “married ’em and buried ’em.” But Truth is Truth and reality is reality. My intent with the music is to portray an accurate representation of my generation of American fighter pilots. It appears you understand that necessarily must include the “warrior’s vernacular.” I do thank you for referencing my musical and literary efforts. I wish you good fortunate and God’s blessings. If not before, I’ll see you on the other side.

  • In the next to last sentence “good fortunate” should read “good fortune.”