The Wind Beneath My Wing

Thoughts of An Aviator

The Wind Beneath My Wing header image 2

Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet

April 24th, 2011 · 3 Comments

It was way back in 1984 and I had just been hired to fly an old Beech King Air aircraft. It was an aircraft with lots of history. Old pilots who knew the airplane told of when LBJ himself flew in it when it was new. After a few weeks of on the job training, I was ecstatic to get to go to a week of training on the aircraft. This training would include many hours of simulator training, along with cockpit procedures training and hours and hours of classroom time followed by studying the books late into the night. The reason I was so excited about this particular training was that up to this point in my career I had paid for most all of my training. I had done this through various difficult jobs, many of which were on the business end of a shovel.
While I was in this initial training on the Beech King Air, my aircraft was in a maintenance shop nearby going through some routine inspections and much needed maintenance. After completing this intensive training, I picked up my aircraft out of the maintenance shop and carefully preflighted it. One always gives an aircraft a thorough preflight especially when it has been in the maintenance shop. The takeoff and climb out were virtually non-eventful and my copilot and I were glad to be on our way home. We leveled off at nineteen thousand feet or flight level 190. All was well and the two jet powered Pratt and Whitney engines were slurping up kerosene in the cold, rarefied air.

The air vent above our heads had been very cool up to this point when suddenly they began to blow warm air. I was not too concerned at first until the warm air became very hot. I reached for the checklist only to discover the checklist for this particular very old aircraft was extremely limited in abnormal and emergency procedures. Back in the early sixties when this aircraft was built, the manufacturer did not supply the pilot with an extensive book of “what to do when things go wrong”. By now things were getting very hot and I was sweating profusely. Smoke began to appear from under the instrument panel and I realized we were in a bad situation. I told my copilot to tell the air traffic control center we were descending out of flight level one nine zero with smoke in the cockpit. With no really good emergency checklist my mind recalled the drill I had rehearsed over and over in the simulator and I remembered what to do. We “dumped” the cabin, which means we depressurized the aircraft and turned off all the pressurization and bleed air switches which keeps the cabin warm and pressurized at high cold altitudes. In a split second the smoke left the aircraft but the cabin and cockpit were still very warm. A few minutes later I landed at a nearby airport with a large assembly of fire trucks escorting me to the ramp.

It was the studying and drilling into my mind those emergency procedures that saved me and my copilot that day. God’s word says in 2 Timothy 2:15, ” Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

When we are in a crisis situation do we go to the checklist of life, God’s Word? Do we study it in such a way that we believe our life depends on it? Have we drilled it into our minds with hours and hours of study? Can we recall His Word for help and guidance when we need it? God’s word is the compass for our lives. It rightly divides the word of truth and gives us the direction we need …….when we read it……..each and every day.


Tags: Thoughts

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 T. James // Apr 24, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Great story with spiritual truths.

    So what caused the heat and smoke?

  • 2 Steve // Apr 24, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    The temperature control valve stuck full open allowing P-3 air to come straight off the engine into the cockpit and passenger cabin. It was 300 degrees F. It ignited the old dust particles in the duct work. I turned the bleeds off and dumped the cabin. The smoke soon cleared and I diverted to Oklahoma City with a large group of fire trucks behind me.

  • 3 David Young // Sep 16, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Steve – Thank you for your essay.
    God does work in mysterious ways!