Learning To Fly

Album: A Momentary Lapse Of Reason (1987)
Charted: 70
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  • Lyrics
  • David Gilmour (Only Music, 1987): "'Learning to Fly' is about breaking free and the actual mechanics of learning to fly an airplane." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington
  • Gilmour is a pilot. He owns a company called Intrepid Aviation. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    John - Waterville, MI
  • The dubbed over voice of pilots talking is actually a recording of drummer Nick Mason during a flying lesson. According to his book Inside Out, both Mason and Gilmour were terrified of flying but eventually got their pilot Licenses. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Josh - Sarnia, Canada
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Comments: 69

  • Chuck from Austin, TexasVisualize astral projection and listen to the track while doing so.
  • Beth from Black Country Of EnglandAlthough its well established this is about truly learning to fly, its a good allegory for facing fear and learning to rise above it, with threads of Icarus and disaster blended in- like the best of songs, the threads make it possible for each of us to hear the song in a way that means something special to us. This song helped me through a terrible period of depression, and hearing it now always lifts me.
  • Euan from NzJust some corrections to Michelle's post about the checklist and radio calls in the bridge of the song:

    Throttle Friction lock - set.
    Mixture's - rich
    Propellers - fully forward
    Flaps - set - 10 degrees
    Engine gauges and suction - check
    Mixture set to maximum percent - recheck
    Flight instruments... Altimeters - check both
    Beacon and Navigation lights - on
    Pitot Heater - on
    Strobes - on
    (to tower): Confirm 3-8-Echo ready for departure
    (tower): Hello again, this is now 129.4
    (to tower): 129.4. It's to go.
    (tower): You may commence your takeoff, winds over 10 knots.
    (to tower): 3-8-Echo
    Easy on the brakes. Take it easy. Its gonna roll this time.
    Just feed in the power gradually, and it...
  • Mitch from Rochester, NyThe phrase "tongue tied and twisted" may actually be the phrase "Turn, Time, and Twist It" or at least is a clear pun on this phrase, which is an instrument pilot's mnemonic used in a holding pattern, a maneuver which instrument rated pilots must demonstrate proficiency. Phrases such as "ice is forming on the tip of my wing", "across the clouds I see my shadow fly", and "can't keep my eyes from the circling sky" all refer to events that happen to experienced instrument pilots.
  • Vikas from Melbourne, AustraliaThis song is purely about the first couple of days of your flight lesson/experiences..

    Into the distance, a ribbon of black - U are in a plane, and staring down at the runways (Ribbon o black)
    Stretched to the point of no turning back - Its streached to a point of no turning back cos you u will be flying after that.. the experiences, u can't turn back from..
    Flight of fancy on a windswept field - The windswept field is the airport and u are in a plane (fancy flight)
    Standing alone, my senses reel - u are alone in it and ur senses reel
    Fatal attraction that's holding me fast - its one of your fatal attractions that holding u tight
    Now, can't escape this irresistible grasp - u can't escape this fact, grasp of your liking to fly and you take off...
    Can't keep my eyes from the circling sky - you keep ur eyes on the sky as you fly.
    Tongue-tied and twisted; just an earth-bound misfit, I - The feeling has ur tongue tied and twisted with the rush of realising your dream ... for what you are is a man (earth bound misfit - one who cannot fly)
    Ice is forming on the tips of my wings - As you fly, you see ice forming on the tips of your wings
    Unheeded warnings, I thought I thought of everything - there are so many flashing beeps on ur dashboard, u r scared, u thought u thought of everything
    No navigator to find my way home - u are urself, no navigator to hold ur hands back
    Unladen, empty, and turned to stone - u are scared
    A soul in tension that's learning to fly - ur soul that wanted to fly, wanted this so badly is now in tension - scared that your dream will have to end for now (not death, u just have to land)
    Condition: grounded - determined to try - u have landed, now u are more determined to fly.
    Can't keep my eyes from the circling skies - u keep ur eyes back on the skies as u land..
    Tongue-tied and twisted; just an earth-bound misfit, I - ur still speechless, just a man (earth bound misfit = a man who is meant to be on the earth)

    (And the brigade basically u going back on the air and you fly)

    Above the planet on a wing and a prayer, - (As you fly properly this time) - u are in a plane (wing) and a prayer
    My grubby halo, a vapour trail in the empty air, - you and the vapour trail your plain makes into the air (empty = its open skies)
    Across the clouds I see my shadow fly - u see ur planes shadow on the clouds below
    Out of the corner of my watering eye - through the corner of your eyes (u eyes fill up with tears of happiness)
    A dream unthreatened by the morning light - in those moments (through ur tears) u see your dream come true in the early morning light)
    Could blow this soul right through the roof of the night - u feel liberated that ur souls feels as if it has been liberated from darkness into the light
    There's no sensation to compare with this - there is no sensation that compares to this as part as you are concerned
    Suspended animation - a state of bliss - U are in a state of suspended animation - just u ur plan, ur dream that just came true and the open skies, no one to bother u as u realise and live your dream liberating ur soul from darkness into the night.

    Can't keep my mind from the circling sky , Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit, I - Just chorus to say u are just a earth bound misfit who just flew.

    Now, this definitely is not written on acid or grass, it just sounds like a good description of a persons feeling when they learn to fly and live their dream.

    Pink Floyd is not about acid and getting stoned! (at least not always!) :D
  • Bill from Grandview Hts, OhSeveral of the comments mention that the song is about learning to fly. That is true on the surface. The song has a deeper meaning though. The song is about life, time, and individuality. The phrase, "into the distance, the ribbon (or river) of black" refers to the runway, obviously, but also it refers to time. The runway, like rivers in literature, refers to the inexorable advance of time. At least one of the comments mentions the word "I" as being "aye." I disagree. The word is "I" as in the first person pronoun. "Across the clouds I see my shadow fly...", "tongue tied and twisted, just an Earthbound misfit, I..." This is about the duality of individuality. It is both alienating from everything else, defining one's individuality, and also affirming one's individuality. Among my favorite portions of the song is the recognition of youth turning to wisdom of experience where he states, " ice is forming on the tips of my wings. unheeded warnings, I thought I'd thought of everything. No navigator to guide my way home, unladen, empty, but turned to stone..." The recklessness of youth meets the challenge of ice on the wings from the unheeded warnings.
  • Alex from Perth, AustraliaThere's no sensation to compare with this, suspended animation, a state of bliss.

    Sounds like lucid dreaming to me
  • Tim from Whitehall, PaNote: In the ATC/aircrew chatter portion, "winds over 10 knots" is actually "winds north at 10 knots."
  • Teri from Prague, Czech RepublicReally love this song. Listening it again and again when writing my diploma thesis, which is about plane crashes... I have always loved planes and flying, but this song gave me a new dream. I want to learn to fly, too!

    And concerning the convo: so, the pilot giving commands is Mason, right? The co-pilot, who checks all the stuff, is Gilmour? But who speaks at the end - "Easy on the brakes. Take it easy. Its gonna roll this time. Just hand the power gradually, and it..." - it's Gilmour telling Mason what to do, or Mason speaking to himself? :oD I am pretty confused, the voice doesn't sound like Gilmour to me... don't you know?
  • Steve from Bend, OrThe word I in this song is aye wich means yes like aye aye captian not I as in me myself and I.
  • Swastik from Dharan, NepalI am lucky that I listen to this song
  • Swastik from Dharan, NepalThis is my favourite song out of all songs I heard.I also fly when I listen to this song.It makes me crazy.Guitars first sound is the best part of this song.Voice of Gilmour is outstandig.I thank Pink Floyd for their heavenly heartfelting songs
    --Swastik Bhandari
  • Sean from Plainview, NyI have to say Thank You to Hailey, as your post did a fantastic job of summing things up. So many people think that Pink Floyd was all about drugs, some even go so far as to say that you need to be stoned to enjoy it; I too am only 16, and seriously have been listening to them all 16 years of my life. While I tend to enjoy the era of Syd to the end of Waters, I still have to say that Gillmore was amazing aswell.
    Getting on to my interpitation of the song, I cant rule out the popular idea of drugs, but Id have to go with a more conservative theory: Going through some rough times, possibly a "Mid-life crisis" Kinda thing. "Condition grounded, but determined to try"; I interpet that as a way of saying the guy just wants to escape hard times at home, "Its irresistable grasp" could be family troubles at home and not being able to just leave. Yes, it definatly does have a bit of Pilot jargon in there, as I have taken a few lessons myself I recongnize quite a bit of the Pre-flight checklist and other refences within this masterpiece of music; I still have to go with my Hard times/midlife crisis theory
  • Sandra from Los Lunas, NmI don't want to sound morbid or anything like that but it really sound like a song about death maybe even by suicide and realizing it was the wrong choice... I hear it in evry line of the song...Into the distance a ribbon of black stretched to the point of no turning back---A fatal attraction holding me fast how can i escape this irrisistable grasp---I can't keep my eyes from the circling skies tongue and twisted just an earth bound misfit i---Unheeded warnings i thought i thought of everything no navigator to find my way home unladed empty an turned to stone a soul in tension thats learning to fly tongue tied and twisted just an earth bound misfit i---above the planet on a wing and a prayer my grubby halo a vapor trail in the empty air---across the clouds i see my shadow fly out of the corner of my watering eye a dream unthreatened by the morning light could blow this soul right though the roof of the night---i dont mean to sound all wierd but every line to me in this song says i made a mistake that i can't take back and this is how it feels I cry almost every time i hear this song.
  • Valerie from Eureka, CaAh Pink Floyd. Again, it's great being old sometimes because all of us old people have seen all of these really cool bands way back in their beginnings. I spent a lot of my time going to concerts. And yes, Pink Floyd is one more band I saw...YEARS ago...this song was not even born at that time. but the video to this is the MOST beautiful of videos. Fear of flying!!??? Boy do I understand that. I have flown from Boston Massachusetts to LA and back...YEARS ago. It was 5 hours each way of pure terror and I always end up with a window seat! The only good part of one of those flights was when I saw the sun above the clouds. It was the ultimate Kodak moment. What caused my fear of flying??? Being a child in Jacksonville Florida and hearing the live reports of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper being in a plane crash. That did it for me...and a year later, I found myself unwillingly boarding a plane going home to Massachusetts......hey thanks for letting me ramble.
  • Robert from Ohrid, MacedoniaMarvelous lyrics. To all of you saying Pink Floyd is nothing without Roger - read Haley's comment, please. Regards.
  • Radu from Reidsville, Nci think its about falling in love.

    "fatal attraction, is holding me fast,
    how can i escape thin irresistable grasp?"
  • Terry from Wickford, RiThe music was largely written by longtime Floyd sideman Jon Carin, which is why it has such an 80's synth-pop feel. Wright was not in the band at that point (he was brought in late in the game and only as a sideman..he wrote nothing for this album) A good chunk of Momentary Lapse was co-written with other people as Gilmour was not entirely confident he could handle all of the songwriting himself. Waters was often quick to jump on this fact in the 'Floyd Wars' of the late 80's. And, it's about flying planes and the metaphors associated with that. One could reach and say it relates to gaining some independence from the Waters-led Floyd and gaining some independence as an artist. But, it's Not About Drugs. It's so very easy to step out from behind the bong and check these facts, especially with the Internet right there. You don't *have* to read all of the books and listen to all of the interviews to know that Floyd is NOT a drug-oriented band. Whether or not anyone, including Syd, was high while writing a particular song, does not mean the songs themselves are about drugs. Get it? Especially by 1986. Dave was known to snort a line or 12 by this period, so if he was writing about drugs, you'd think everything on this album would be at a breakneck tempo. But it's not. Get stoned and enjoy if you want...but don't make up meanings that simply don't exist and then tell everyone to 'wake up' and know the 'truth'. It's called a fact check. Explore the possibilities before posting...
  • Diverdriver from Petaluma, CaCarrie,
    I feel the same. I got my commercial multi instrument before I did my first jump. This song reminds me of my AFF level 4. It's on my video of the jump.
  • Carrie from Tulsa, OkI am a pilot and a skydiver. Everytime I hear this song it reminds me of my first freefall where I was actually able to stay stable. It brings back the sensation of the air hitting my body and that amazing sense of freedom and exhileration that comes when you let everything go and just live in the momemnt. This song also perfectly describes the uncertainty and fear you initially fear before your first solo flight. You sit at edge of the runway- this is something you have worked for and something you really want, yet it's still kind of scary taking off with no back up. Then when your wheels lift off of the ground, there is this exhilerating freedom you feel as the friction of the ground lets go and the air around your wings lifts you up into your first solo. I think my favorite line is "just an earthbound misfit, I." I think once you have been bitten by the bug, either flying or skydiving, you never really feel at home unless you have a little air under your butt:)
  • Haley from Richmond, VaI am only sixteen years old, but I have been listening to Pink Floyd for all sixteen years of my life (literally). After skimming through these posts, I've noticed a few topics that I wanted to comment on. The first comment that caught my eye was the one about Pink Floyd no longer being Pink Floyd without Roger Waters. I REALLY encourage fans to watch the documentary "The Pink Floyd Story: Which one is Pink?" In this, it explains that there were three different forerunners in the band, & each had their own "Pink Floyd" (there was Syd's Floyd, Roger's Floyd, & David's Floyd). Yes, the Pink Floyd that most people know of can be credited towards Roger Waters, because he wrote most of the lyrics to the songs, when he was in the band; & because their two most successful albums were recorded when Roger was in the spotlight (the albums: Dark Side of the Moon & Wish You Were Here). The problem with Roger & the other members in the band, was Roger's assumption that he was "the band"; and when he left the band, after their release of The Final Cut, he stated that Pink Floyd was no more--because of his absence. David would not accept that, & so he stepped up as the third forerunner of the band.

    In everything that Floyd did, they used metaphors & symbolism. Their songs cannot be classified as "Oh, this is exactly what they were writing about", because each song can be related to life & the greater picture, as well as the initial images created by the lyrics. For example, this song ("Learning To Fly") creates the images of aircraft and the thrills involved in flight; but that may simply be a metaphor for life. The idea that everything Floyd did was about drugs is simply preposterous. Yes, the members of the band were under the influence (especially Syd), but so were many other bands of the time--even today, many artists in the industry are using drugs. What is so funny about the statement made by Jason, from NY, is: " if youve ever listened to this song stoned outta your mind you will realize that its about being under the influence of all kinds of drugs". I'd just like to mention that when you're under the influence of drugs... you tend to relate everything to the drug & the feeling ensued by the drug. However, I can't deny that this song & many of their other songs can be interpreted that way, because they can... but Pink Floyd was not "all about drugs".

    It was not until I watched the documentary, that I realized how much of an effect that Syd had on the band, far after he left it. As explained by the band members, songs such as "Wish You Were Here" & "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" were actually songs written about Syd, though many listeners do not interpret it that way. Now as I think about it, it is pretty clear how Syd influenced their songs. Throughout the changing of leaders in the band, Pink Floyd managed to maintain a particular sound.

    As I've mentioned throughout this long ramble, I cannot say it enough: "The Pink Floyd Story: Which One Is Pink?" is a must-see documentary. If you have trouble finding it, you can go to YouTube & watch it in six parts (search: cabeza100)... though the audio is about 10/more seconds slower than the video, the film is still in pretty good quality. It's still best to find the full composition of the documentary...
  • Hillary Davis from Vance, AlThis Song Is About Making Love.
    And Its A Very Good Song To Make Love To.
  • Doug from Kansas City, MoDavid Gilmour..is number one in this group! what a guy, and a helluva guitar player. Quite soft spoken and modest too..his work speaks for itself. I'd fly with Dave anytime-anywhere.
  • Adam from Spokane, WaI've listened to the song about three times in a row now for the first time. In my opinion this song is about knowing yourself so well that you feel so stretched that you no longer question what you want to do. When they speak of a un resistible grasp I believe that it is in reference to love. That you can not give up the un resistable grasp of love that you feel. It all makes since. It's a song about love. Learned to be who you want to be so you can fly with your love. Learning to fly.
  • Tim from Houston, Txthis whole album was horrible.They should have just packed it in,and be remembered for their past success.
  • Mackenzie from Van Anda, BcThis is my favourite song of all time, it is just so calming!
    Gilmour's voice is very soothing and I've listened to this song, to date, 193 on iTunes.
  • Austin from Brooklyn Park, MnAnd to all the people who say Pink Floyd is all about drugs you are wrong too...well according to Nick Mason is his book Inside Out, he says that Roger and him were in to drinking while Rick and DAvid enjoyed marijuana....and syd was the only one known to do LSD, but then again I dont know he may be trying to cover it up
  • Austin from Brooklyn Park, MnThis is one of the worst Pnik Floyd songs ever, it honestly sounds just like a damn 80's song. Pink Floyd is not Pink Floyd without Roger Waters.... the writing is just terrible
  • Gawen from Dartford, EnglandThis is some of Dave Gilmour's best guitaring IMHO, and it is ALL about flying and NOTHING else. I would think from 'Standing alone my senses reeled' it's Dave's first solo flight.

    All the lyrics describe perfectly a Pilot's emotions from standing on a runway 'Into the distance a ribbon of black' to take off 'Can I escape this irresistible grasp?' to the indescribable feeling of flying itself. Go flying or even better sky diving and you'll know!

    A wonderful tribute to the art of flight from a wonderfully gifted musician, thank you Mr Gilmour...
  • Bella from PretoriaMan This song makes me stoned!There's no sensation to compare with the high of this song!The sentece 'Tongue-tied and twisted,just an earth-bound misfit,I' reminds me of myself.
  • Silas from Portland, OrOne of my favorite pink floyd songs, I know the bands meaning was more of aviation, but the lyrics could also be seen as a trip on LSD:

    "Standing alone my senses reeled
    A fatal attraction holding me fast, how
    Can I escape this irresistible grasp?"

    "A soul in tension that's learning to fly"

    "My grubby halo, a vapour trail in the empty air,
    Across the clouds I see my shadow fly
    Out of the corner of my watering eye"

    "There's no sensation to compare with this
    Suspended animation, A state of bliss
    Can't keep my eyes from the circling skies
    Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit, I"
  • Moataz from Cairo, Egypti believe that this song is about getting free from the waters influence, especially gilomour.
    Many of the songs titles post-waters refer to that meaning, starting from "learning to fly", "sign of life", "speak to me", " a great day for freedom". all the titles refer to the meanings of freedom, try to communicate with others, unlike the relationship between them and waters. when Waters asserted more and more control over Pink Floyd's output,
  • Michael from OxfordFor a change, we have a Pink Floyd song that's NOT DEPRESSING.
  • Christian Bustillos from Ruidoso, Nmi KNOW this song is about trippin on psychotropic drugs like shrooms or acid while looking at the full moon, many people know that the moon is CRAZY on these drugs but not many people i know have done it to the FULL MOON and i cant explain it to you youd have to do it its not of this world
  • Chuck from Joppa, Md, Md"tis about working in a chip shop isn't it? oh no thats learning to fry" Lmfao at Kev from Hull, England.
  • Eddie from Rome, GaI'd always thought this song was about the Challenger disaster: the "ice is forming" referring to the frozen o-ring in the booster; "across the clouds I see my shadow fly" referring to the split seconds when the crew may have been ejected from the capsule and still conscious; "thought I thought of everything" meaning who'd ever suspect the temp would dip below freezing at Canaveral? Other lyrics of course: "no navigator to guide my way home," "above the planet on a wing and a prayer" etc. I thought the gibberish in the middle of the song might represent communication between the capsule and "ground control," but the Challenger flight lasted 73 seconds & this part of the song only takes about 60 secs. So apparently, from previous facts & comments, the song had nothing to do with Challenger; but a great song like this can suggest many different things.
  • David from Petaluma, CaAs a commercial pilot I can say Gilmour's lyrics are most definately about flying airplanes. "There's no sensation to compare to this" except skydiving which I also do.
  • Michelle from Anaheim, CaHas anyone seen the video for this? It's pretty good.
  • Michelle from Anaheim, CaI found this on Wikipedia.com. If you type in A Momentary Lapse of Reason, it should come up.

    The recording heard in the middle of "Learning to Fly" is of Mason talking to an air traffic control tower in his private aircraft (both he and Gilmour became enthusiastic pilots after conquering their mutual fear of flying. It incidentally holds the distinction of being the first song to be released worldwide as a CD-only single.
  • Kenne from TinsletownPink Floyd won 2 MTV video music awards for this video in 1987 (best direction & visualized effects) & it placed at #164 on MTV's 500 greatest videos of all-time.
  • Jason from Roch, NyYou Guys are alllllll wrong Pink Floyd was all about the drugs man, if youve ever listened to this song stoned outta your mind you will realize that its about being under the influence of all kinds of drugs " there's no sensation to compare to this" cmon now
  • Paul from Sheffield, Englandthis song is cool, i like the psycadelic back tune to it, also the lyrics are reaaly good and well thought, Floyd Rock!
  • Pete from Ny, NyThe only classic song Floyd did post-Waters.
  • Rick from Atlanta, GaThanks, Michelle, in California...but that's why they have the "view lyrics" tab in the header.
    :-) Appreciate you taking the time, though.
  • George from Parma, OhThis song was the idea of one of the other band members who I forget. David was running late for a recording session because he was taking a flying lesson so one of the other band members were sitting in a back of a truck waiting for him pretty upset and wrote out the song.
  • Justin from Cleveland, OhThis song could either be about drugs...

    or hard times in life...

    or flying a damn plane

    i think the first 2, depeneding on my mood
  • Danielle from Sarnia, MiI think that learing to fly by floyd is an amazing song..almost all thier music is a form of written to make you think of what its really about like the wall how its accutally about life. I think this song represents growing up stretched to the point of no turning back you can't go back to those childhood hoods thier done..anyways i jsut think it talks about how crazy life is and its up and downs and how that can be related to flying.
  • Dennis from Chicagoland Burrows, IlPink trumps Petty! So much better thatn Tom's song of the same name.
  • Michelle from Anaheim, CaHere's the convo in the middle of the song-the flight check.
    Friction lock - set.Mixture - richPropellers - fully forwardFlaps - set - 10 degreesEngine gauges and suction - check
    Mixture set to maximum percent - recheck
    Flight instruments...
    Altimeters - check both
    (garbled word) - on
    Navigation lights - on
    Strobes - on
    (to tower): Confirm 3-8-Echo ready for departure
    (tower): Hello again, this is now 129.4
    (to tower): 129.4. It's to go.
    (tower): You may commence your takeoff, winds over 10 knots.
    (to tower): 3-8-Echo
    Easy on the brakes. Take it easy. Its gonna roll this time.
    Just hand the power gradually, and it...

  • Agropio from Buenos Aires, ArgentinaInteresting; I had always asumed that "Into the distance a ribbon of black" referred to the actual runway in front of him before he takes off (which I think takes place during the "fatal attraction holding me fast" lines).
  • Gary from Boothwyn, PaI hear undertones of Astral Projections in this song. The ribbon of black is in reference to what people who say they experience astral projections, is this cord that keeps them connected to their bodies. In fact this whole song can be interputted to astral projections or BOE's. Has anyone here ever read Jonthan Livingston Seagull? If you did you would see the connections.
  • Susan from Airdrie, CanadaI really like how the conversation between the pilot & the tower are added in the lyrics. When I listened to the song in the past, I thought I caught a "congratulations on your first solo" or something at the end of the convo. I took my private pilot's license 14 years ago, and this song always brings home the reason that I wanted to fly in the first place. It is so fitting to that feeling of wanting to fly, and then actually flying. And flying your first solo is such a rush; that's what I feel he was doing. Maybe the "ice is forming..." stuff was just a nightmare or nerves prior to taking off on his first solo flight?
  • Sandra from Orlando, FlFor anyone who has ever thought about skydiving, listen to the lyrics and imagine actually flying. And for those who are skydiver, wouldn't you agree that this could be your anthem? I know it isn't for everyone, but if you ever really wanted to fly, you simply must try it.
  • Sandra from Orlando, FlI'm a skydiver and I must say that the lyrics to this song are fantastic for representing how skydiving makes me feel! As a couple of you so elequently put, there is a lot of symbolism going on. Metaphors about fear and doubt and learning to fly on ones own. Just like skydiving is a metaphor about life for me, this song seems to put into words those feelings attached with the sport I so dearly love.
  • Sandra from Orlando, FlAnd thanks for adding the lyrics of the piloting communication that takes place in between the vocals! Fantastic.
  • Anthony from Beverly, NjI love this song and i need to listen for the checklist
  • Anthony from St Ives, EnglandInto the distance a ribbon of black
    Stretched to the point of no turning back
    A flight of fancy on a windswept field
    Standing alone my senses reeled
    A fatal attraction holding me fast how
    Can I escape this irresistible grasp?

    Ribbon of black sounds like a trail of smoke coming out from the plane.
    No turning back seems like he knows hes going to die and realises it.
    Fatal attraction could mean he is literally dying to do something he loves.

    Ice is forming on the tips of my wings
    Unheeded warnings I thought I thought of everything
    No navigator to guide my way home
    Unladened, empty and turned to stone

    His wings are starting to freeze up.
    He thought he had everything under control but didn't.
    No navigator could mean the radio signal was lost.
    Turned to stone = metaphor for freezing

    But the rest of the song seems to be him taking off and enjoying his flight..

  • Anthony from St Ives, EnglandI remember reading somewhere that this song is about a person that is flying a plane, something goes wrong with the plane but he doesn't care because he is having such a great experience flying. So the pilot dies but didn't care that he died because he was doing something he really wanted to do.
  • Takashi from Tokyo, JapanRob from Kyle, THose are both good songs, but another one thats really good is Noise And Kisses by The Used. But Pink Floyd couldn't have made better music.
  • Ash from Charleston, WvI Could Not Said It Better Myself Your Words So Coherent Sentences Very Well Structured Keep Up Good Work.
  • Robert from Kyle, TxThis Has To Be One Of The Best Songs I Have Ever Heard Period Its So Good And I Just Wanna Recomend It To Everyone Dude Its Like The Lyrics Are So Moving And I Had Trouble Finding This Song Title I Thought The Lyric Was Tumbling Skies But I Was Wrong This Is A Very Good Song Next To A World So Cold By Mudvayne
  • Rob from Bristol, EnglandI like this song, because there are two distinct levels of operation here. One is the transparent mechanics of becoming a pilot, and the first thrill of soaring in the sky. On a much deeper level, a lot of the lyrics can be applied to life, and I think, love; to some extent. For instance - "there's no sensation to compare with this; suspended animation, a state of bliss" - could easily describe the phenomenon of falling in love. For life, we have quotes such as, "a soul in tension that is learning to fly; condition grounded, but determined to try" - indicative that life is something of a struggle, but you need to persevere. There is a ton of symbolism in a lot of Floyd songs, but this definitely manages to retain Watersesque symbolism *without* Waters...
  • Michael from Dundee, IlThis is a great song, and one that inspired me to become not only a pilot, but a skydiver as well. A really interesting part is in the middle of the song, when it sounds fuzzy and somewhat incoherent, if you listen closely you will hear David Gilmour going through a preflight checklist, he checks his flaps, etc.. I never noticed this until I had become a pilot and recognized it because I had done it so many times.
  • Jason from Commack, NyActually the influence of this song came from a fight Nick Mason and David Gilmour had. After the fight, Nick Mason noticed Gilmour "Learning to Fly". Discussing the turmoil afterwards, they resolved their differences and Nick had said that he felt a tad jealous about David, and Gilmour had said he still had a lot to learn about life. So in turn david was "learning to Fly"
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesNo relation to Tom Petty's 1991 hit of the same name, but to an extent I think it tries to convey the same meaning - of someone trying something out for the first time, finding it all hard to come to turns with - (in the words of Tom Petty's version) "I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings", but at the same time being (in the words of the Pink Floyd version) "stretched to the point of no turning back", not paricularly enjoying the experience but realising that you have come far to go back, and refusing to give in (again in the words of Pink Floyd's version "condition grounded but determined to try"), even though you have by this time lost your way and have no real idea where to go next ("No navigator to find my way home", from Floyd's version). Pink Floyd's version is, I believe, a way of saying enjoy it, don't relent, even if it's hard and you feel you can't cope (from Floyd's version "There's no sensation to compare with this, suspended animation, a state of bliss. Can't keep my eyes from the circling sky, tongue-tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit, I" using piolting experiences as a metaphor for life. I really like the way that the two songs, which have the same title, are, musically, poles apart, yet, either by design or default, somehow convey the same message using very different words.
  • Gregory from Clearwater, Momy god,without the knowledge of people on this page i it would have taken me another 10 years to figure this one out!! thank gregory
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesI love the lyrics to this song! "A soul in tension, that's learning to fly, condition grounded, but determined to try. There's no sensation to compare with this, suspended animation, a state of bliss. Can't keep my eyes from the circling sky, tongue-tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit, I". This is a breath-taking song, everyone should hear it at least once in their life!
  • Kev from Hull, Englandtis about working in a chip shop isn't it? oh no thats learning to fry
  • Ric from Melbourne, AustraliaThe background talking in this song is Nick Mason (drummer) talking to a control tower during a flying lesson. David Gilmour can also be heard to say something.
    The video clip for this song was by cover designer Storm Thorgerson, and won him an award.
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