The song was an early composition by Roger Waters and David Gilmour. The lyrics described a character, Henry McLean, who invites his girlfriend Jean for a ride in his newly built flying machine. The two attempt to escape an imaginary future world (dated 2005) where overcrowding and lack of food are the norm. Because the recording quality on most pressings was marginal, it was difficult for fans to get an accurate interpretation of the science-fiction like lyrics. Musically, the song is a heavy piece of psychedelia, similar to "The Nile Song", which was also the group's next European single.
The record did poorly on the charts, and for this reason Pink Floyd did not release another single in the UK until 1979's "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II" from The Wall. Its B-side, "Careful with That Axe, Eugene," became over time far more popular. The A-side has since become the most obscure of all officially released Pink Floyd recordings. It was left out of the 1971 collection Relics and was not re-issued until the 1992 CD collection The Early Singles, a bonus disc in the Shine On box set.
There was also a different performance of the song recorded for the BBC, but this has never been officially released on record. A promotional film was made for the record in which the group posed for pictures in flying goggles standing next to a 1920's vintage aeroplane. Still pictures from this photo session were included in promotional materials given away with the U.K. single and on a picture sleeve version released in Europe. Similar shots taken at the same time later appeared in the artwork for the LP A Nice Pair and the booklet for 1992 remastered CD of A Saucerful of Secrets.