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This article examines the context, composition, and reception of two works commissioned by the United States Army Air Forces during World War II: Samuel Barber’s Second Symphony and Marc Blitzstein’s Airborne Symphony. The first part of the article situates the two works within their time, surveying the uses of art music by the military during the war and explaining the high cultural status of the symphony as a genre during the 1940s. The second part demonstrates that both symphonies musically depict concepts then associated with flight, such as modernity, solitude, and adventure—sometimes in strikingly similar ways. Finally, the article considers the two works’ reception histories, which have been negatively colored by their provenance in the war. The author suggests that, whatever the symphonies’ flaws, they are due for reassessment: they evoke an era in which art music was valued across many layers of society, both for its prestige and its perceived communicative power—and that era deserves to be remembered.