Our Cherokee Piper Warrior single engine plane sat at the end of the poorly maintained runway. Every nerve in my body was on edge. Gray clouds covered the sky.
I jogged over to plane. David looked around as I approached.
I said, “Pastor, I don’t think it’s wise to fly today.”
“Did Tallahassee tower give you a no-go?” he asked.
“No, but the ceiling of 1500 feet gives me little to work with.” I explained.
I was a relatively new pilot with one hundred hours of flying time under my belt. My lack of experience played a part in my decision to take the flight despite my concerns.
Take off went smoothly and soon we saw the beacon light of Tallhassee’s municipal airport.
“Piper, you have an 1800 foot ceiling all the way to Ocala. Have a good flight," came the crackled voice from tower control.
After the report from Tallahassee, I began to relax a little. The gray clouds wisped by the cockpit windows. The altimeter showed us at 1600 feet and the airspeed indicator clocked us at 110 knots.
As David sorted through his sermon notes, I peered through the windows to the ground below. However, our sense of safety would soon be shattered.
Out of nowhere, a bank of dark clouds enveloped us. Visibility plummeted to zero. The cabin temperature dropped. Backpacks and books went sliding across the floor as the plane took a dive to 1000 feet.
Instinctively, I pulled up on the stick. Ignoring my instruments, I tried to find a way out of the clouds by sight. To my naked eye, the storm clouds formed a road. I followed it hoping to break out above the haze. It never happened.
As if picked up by a huge hand, the aircraft pitched upward. The altimeter now read 5000 feet.
David gripped the door and seat cushion with both hands. His face had lost all color.
Another wind shear sent the plane plummeting to 2000 feet. Books and papers were flying in mid-air while some were stuck to the ceiling. My stomach was in my throat and I felt like I would vomit. I then noticed the artificial horizon. The brown part was on top, and the blue part was on bottom indicating that we were flying upside down.
Another great force threw my body backward. The plane pitched to 8000 feet. I knew I was way beyond my level of experience and the capabilities of the aircraft.
I became aware of David. Saucer-like eyes stared at me.
He asked, “Are we going to die?”
“No.” I said with all the conviction I could muster up. Then he began to pray.
The plane lurched around like a roller coaster ride gone wrong. Our airspeed showed 160 knots. I couldn’t believe the wings had not ripped off at that speed.
I heard the altimeter ticking down. The plane was in a spiral nosedive. My mind was blank. By this time, all the gauges were going wild.
Suddenly, my ears muffled to the roar of the engine and my pastor’s frantic praying. In the silence, I heard a Voice. The taste of honey poured into my mouth as His Words soothed my frayed nerves, “Peace be to you. Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”
Panic gave way to peace. I looked at my instruments and was surprised to find the needles steady. In the next instant, the airplane broke through the clouds.
Training kicked in. I hit the rudder in the opposite direction. It worked. The plane straightened just in time to miss a line of pine trees that minutes before were spinning toward us.
A water tower in the distance told our location. We were near Cross City, a full one hundred miles off our planned course. I headed to the nearest airstrip.
As the plane rolled to a stop, David jumped out and kissed the ground. Breathlessly, I told him about the Voice. We praised God for saving our lives.
After fueling up, we hesitantly boarded the plane. Laughter filled the cabin as we stared in awe at the path of blue sky ahead of us.
After a picture perfect landing, we headed home to our families.
Shortly after my adventure, I began to doubt that I heard a Voice at all.
That is until I read Judges 6:23 (NASB):
“The Lord said to him, ‘Peace be to you, do not fear; you shall not die.’”
Astonished, I realized these were the very same words I had heard during that harrowing experience. I fell on my knees and asked God to forgive me for doubting Him.
To this day, the Word of God is a taste of honey that lingers with me still.
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No, but the ceiling of 1500 feet gives me little to work with.” I explained.
After this statement, I would have liked to know what made you decide to fly...I think that would add to your story and it would be worth cutting a line elsewhere to do it...
Good writing! Isn't it neat - no isn't just a "wow" when God does something that cannot be explained away?