Before we left I called flight service to get a report on the weather and to my dismay things weren’t looking good. A cold front was coming in dropping temperatures, snow and the cloud ceiling was around 3000 feet 30 miles to the west of us. I walked outside and looked at the beautiful blue clear sky and figured they had to be wrong. I refused to believe the weather report because I was focused on my desire. We loaded up on the airplane and headed out and would you believe that the weather service was right. When we approached Denton we saw the front coming. I had to make a choice. Turn around, fly on top of the clouds hoping there would be a clear spot to go through when we arrived at Lamesa or fly under it. The ceiling was 3000 feet so I thought I would certainly be safe. So I persisted to go on despite all the warnings.
When we were over Possum Kingdom Lake we started picking up ice and I got really nervous and decided we needed to find a place to land. I started out for Mineral Wells, but as I was turning around I saw an airport below us. I didn’t know what airport and really didn’t care. I just headed for it quickly as I could. It was Possum Kingdom.
When we landed there was a shack with a heater in it so we camped out there for about an hour or so hoping the temp would rise and we could be on our way. Never did I consider returning home. The temperature finally got a few degrees above freezing so I thought we’d try to make it to Abilene. My navigation was off a little and we actually ended up in Sweetwater which was actually better. We landed there and called my folks and asked them to come get us. I got to thinking that if we could make it to Snyder that would save them a lot of time and it would be a very short flight for us so we agreed for them to get us in Snyder.
Something I soon realized after we left the ground in Sweetwater was that the cloud ceiling had not changed and was around 3200 feet. What I failed to realize is that the ground elevation continued to rise and we could only fly about 200 feet above the ground. At that altitude I knew that it could be very possible to fly into a tower or something. So I thought I’d better be safe and fly the highways to Snyder. (Safe?)
As we were headed down I20 from that perspective I wasn’t quite sure which exit to take to Snyder so Karen looked down and read the exit sign to Snyder and she said, “Snyder, that way.” So I took the exit following the road, every curve and bend because I wanted to be “safe.” I remember passing cars on the highway doing about 170 mph. Finally we saw Snyder and I had to leave the safety of the road to head for the airport, landed and parked the plane. Then we waited for my folks to arrive. I was exhausted! I think I finally quit shaking about half way to Lamesa. When we got to Lamesa it was cold and foggy. I am so glad I didn’t try to get all the way there. That was the first smart thing I did all day.
I could only stay a couple of days because I had to get back to work. The only problem it was snowing so I had to fly back on Southwest.
I now know and even then I might have realized after the fact that this was an incredibly stupid and dangerous event that I not only put myself in, but my wife and son. Maybe you haven’t done this, but I would bet you have done something similar.
There were several errors I made that day and they didn’t start with the flight. They actually started several years ago when I was a teenager. Every summer I tried to get a job at the Lamesa airport. Of course, I never did because there really wasn’t anything to do there. I used to go out there trying to watch airplanes fly and dream of being a pilot flying in and out of that airport. Once I got my pilot’s license that had become my focus for a long time. I thought the day had come for me to fulfill my dream, but it hadn’t.
My dream had turned from a dream to a determination and obsession. Nothing was going to get in my way, not even God. He taught me different. Have you ever had this kind of obsession and everywhere you turned you ran into a locked door or road block? I should have learned from this, but through my life I have tried to force myself through many doors. There are times when we need to try door after door and keep searching, but there are many times when we need to pull back and ask God what He wants.
Many think God’s Word is about rules and regulations when in reality it’s warnings and danger signs. It’s Truth! When we get so caught up in the many lies in our life as well as the many that are being fed to us, it’s so refreshing to know that our Lord deals only in truth. However, just like I ignored all the warning signs the trip could have ended in disaster. How many interpret the Bible as don’t do what you like and do the things you don’t like. For many years my life was full of disasters because I didn’t heed the warning signs. The first step is learning the warning signs. The only person at fault was mine because I didn’t learn the warning signs or refused to listen to them. Such as, “Highly Explosive: Handle with Care!!!”
This story is about arrogant youth, but also pride. I was determined to get my way even if it killed me. Fortunately my loving Father had mercy on me and protected us even though I didn’t deserve it and got us there and back safely. I wonder sometimes if Karen and Rusty wouldn’t have been in the plane God wouldn’t have let me crash. It reminds me about a man who was on a commercial plane and was real nervous. The passenger tried to assure him that if it was not your time to die it didn’t matter where you were at. He said, “Yeah, but what if it’s not my time but it’s the pilot’s time to die?”
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:13-17
I’m learning that God will allow us to have certain things in our life, but it is always based on His timing and not ours. A year or so later after this event I had to fly to Amarillo on commercial and pick up an airplane and take it back to McKinney. When we were flying in to Amarillo I noticed we had to dodge several thunderstorms getting in. I wasn’t too keen on flying back knowing had this to look forward to. The man who picked me up felt it would be wise for me to stay overnight. I had a wonderful idea and told him I would fly down to Lamesa and stay overnight there and head back in the morning. I didn’t get very far before I ran into another line of thunderstorms and had to turn around and go back. So I spent the night in Amarillo.
I really began to think that God wasn’t ever going to let me fly into Lamesa so I had finally let this desire go. One time when we were visiting in Lamesa there a man I used to work for really loved flying and asked me if I would take him flying. I told him I’d love to, but there were no airplanes in Lamesa to rent. So we went to Midland and he rented a plane for us and guess what, “I got to fly into Lamesa and land.”
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8