Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

February 27, 2013

Emergency Landing

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Some years ago I left Miami on an early flight to Asheville, North Carolina. I flew into Atlanta to change planes. From Atlanta, I boarded a small “puddle” jumper for the continued flight.

My plane from Miami only had about 20 passengers. It was an uneventful flight until we approached Atlanta. An announcement was made that electrical power had been lost and the landing gear could not be lowered. With the few passengers aboard, full explanation was given. The pilot held back nothing. Over the next 30 minutes, information flowed.

A crew member would hand-crank the landing gear. This was done, but then we were told that there was no way to know if it was locked in place because the light that would indicate it was locked was not on because of the power failure. A small plane was sent up to inspect the gear. It was confirmed that it was lowered, but there was no way to tell if it was locked.

Caution dictated that it must be assumed that it was not locked. We spent the next hour flying off the Georgia coast to dump all excess fuel. This was to prevent fire or explosion on impact. Only sufficient fuel for a landing in Atlanta would be retained. As we approached Atlanta, instructions were given for preparation for the emergency landing. A request was made for any military or law enforcement on board to identify themselves. There were none. As they inquired about various occupations, it was discovered I was a minister.

They chose me to sit at the exit door. They wanted someone with emergency training, or someone who could be calm in such an emergency. My responsibility was to open the emergency door immediately on impact, and aid each passenger as they would exit.

As we circled the airport, the runway had been foamed and emergency vehicles lined the runway. It was at that moment that you could hear many people praying. Some were so intense and anxious in their praying that much of it was audible. This was a time to pray. No matter the background or religious experience of the passengers, it was interesting to note that a call to God was made in the face of possible death.

The landing was safe and without any difficulty. The landing gear had locked and so there was no problem. The landing was routine. However, we did taxi to the end of the runway where we sat for a few minutes until transportation could arrive to take us to the terminal.

During this wait is when I realized a totally different environment contrasted with the “spiritual” environment that had existed as we prepared for the emergency landing. The announcement was made, “Open bar!” Suddenly, all these “praying” passengers rushed for a drink. And the conversation was so different. Now I was hearing laughter, joking, profanity, and the noise of a party. Had God suddenly been forgotten? Where was the thankfulness? Of course, I cannot speak for each passenger, but I know rather than an atmosphere of thankfulness, it was one of revelry.

I have long remembered that experience. It is typical of us to call out for God in times of need, but then in our relief, we fail to give Him praise and thanks. Perhaps today, I will be more cautious in how I recognize God’s goodness and will remember to give Him thanks. Join me in this commitment.

“Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles . . . .” (Psalms 105:5)



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