Poetic Licence

Up Up And Away By Martin Newell Illustration: Shane McGowan
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Two Canadian "Top Gun" pilots fired over 1000 rounds of ammunition at a rogue weather balloon last week but failed to shoot it down. This week, after losing height and drifting over Greenland, the blimp eventually came down somewhere in the Arctic.

Over grainlands, lakes and prairies

Eastbound out of Saskatoon

Bigger than St Paul's cathedral

One Canadian Met. balloon

Helium-filled and v. expensive

Perfect in design and stitch

Up until the thing goes awol

Due to some equipment glitch

Off across the North Atlantic

Clogging up the day-flight lanes

Goes the blimp, until two pilots

Shoot at it from fighter planes

Pride of the Canadian Air Force

Loosing off a thousand rounds

Fail to down a sailing target

Wider than five football grounds

Twice as tall as Nelson's Column

Hanging there serene, surreal

Back at base and post-debriefing

Wonder how those pilots feel?

Having lost their Top Gun trophies

As their colleagues give them stick

While the source of all their sorrow

Sashays on past Keflavik

Drifting, dropping over Greenland

`Til the errant rogue balloon

Comes in range of Inuit hunters

And their hot-shot, "Top Harpoon"

Taking aim, the mighty warrior

Hurls his missile at the blimp

Down it hisses detumescing

Over pack-ice, dragging limp.

"Leave it," says the Inuit leader,

"NATO can sort out this mess

Let the Top Guns think they got it

After all, they need the press."