Bill's Vignettes

This is my story. It will consist of little pictures, snippets, or vignettes, from my past. It is a legacy to my children and grandchildren and those that may come after and hopefully will also be of some interest to the casual reader who doesn't know me from Adam.

Flight From Fear

Posted by sundoulos2005 on September 19, 2007

“Well, you can park it or fly it.”

“I’ll fly it.” The instructor shut the door of N8142S, the Cessna 150 that would catapult me into the roll of aviators, stepped back off the taxiway and waved good luck. I swallowed my anxiety, returned the wave, adjusted the aircraft trim for the loss of a passenger, and taxied onto the runway.

“Remember, you can always go around if you make a bad approach. You’ve got two hours of fuel: don’t be afraid to use it.” The instructor’s last minute advice helps to alleviate my fears.

Once on the runway I line up the airplane’s nose with the centerline. I check to see that all is clear for takeoff, advance the throttle as smoothly as my tremulous hand would allow, release the brakes, and I’m off and running.

What had brought me to this place? My mind goes back to just nine days earlier. I had been terrified of flying. I had hated it. Even now I’m not comfortable.

The airspeed indicator passes 45 … 50 … 55 mph. I pull back on the yoke … 60 … 65 mph — airborne! I choke on a gulp. I’m up … and alone.

“I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me.” The words of the 23rd Psalm reassure me. I repeat it. “I will fear no evil.”

I’m not even clear of the runway and the glove box pops open. Logbooks, tools, and a Coke bottle, aided by the sharp climb angle, slide out. I reach over and slam the door shut with one hand while the other drunkenly controls the airplane.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.”

I am in control. Two left turns and I level off at 800 feet above the ground. I’m now parallel to the runway. As I arrive opposite the runway numbers I pull the throttle back to the idle position, turn on the carburetor heat, and prepare for landing. My hands are wringing with perspiration. My heartbeat feels like a run-away jackhammer.

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord tby God is with thee withersoever thou goest.”

How far I’ve progressed from that introductory flight nine days ago. A Christian pilot and friend had talked me into taking flying lessons.

“But I’m terrified of flying!”

“You can got over that. Three weeks from now you’ll be surprised you ever were afraid.”

“But what if…”

“It’s a sin to be afraid. You just don’t trust God.”

“Well, it’ll either be one of the best things I”ve ever done,” I said as I turned to sign the papers that got me started, “— or the most stupid.”

Two more left turns and I’m lined up with the runway again — this time in the air. I start my descent … I’m too fast. I drop the flaps and slow down — too much. I’m getting closer. I’m too low. I increase the speed to arrest the descent. Now I’m too high. I can’t land!

“Lord, help!”

I shove the throttle all the way in to regain cruise speed and push in on the yoke at the same time to keep the nose from pitching up while simultaneously turning off the carb heat. As the speed increases I retract the flaps and ease the airplane into a climb attitude and go around for another try.

I’m calm now. The spirit of fear is gone. The words of the Apostle John have proven true: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.” What is that perfect love? “Herein Is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.”

“Yes, Lord, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me.”

© Willard Paul 1975 All Rights Reserved

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