John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
High Flight was written by Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee Jr., an American citizen who was born of missionary parents in Shanghai and educated in Britain's famed Rugby School.

He went to the United Stated in 1939, and at the age of 18, won a scholarship to Yale. But he felt he must aid the cause of freedom and instead enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in September, 1940. He served overseas with an RCAF Spitfire Squadron until his death on active service on December 11, 1941.

His sonnet, composed in September 1941 as the exultant freedom of soaring 30,000 feet made a word-pattern in his mind, was scribbled on the back of a letter to his mother in Washington, shortly after he returned to earth.