On this morning I’ve just read about a plane that landed being piloted by a passenger (see below). It might be strange to face such a situation and now I remembered an image that travelled the net with a steward entering the passengers’ cabin and asking “Is there someone that knows how to use Microsoft Flight Simulator?”.
By happen, I am a fan of Microsoft Flight Simulator and often I use to pilot different types of airplanes on various simulated conditions. Being a very relaxing thing, it is a nice experience, but I’ve never had imagined that in reality I shall have such a “chance” to drive a plane in real conditions!
This little story has some details that prevented a sure crash (i.e. the passenger running the plane had a valid pilot license for a smaller plane, even he haven’t being practice for 18 years, doubled with the ability of air traffic controller to communicate the right commands), but by no means it was a miracle and a chance.
We cannot remain but amazed by the reply this person gave in the words:” When a controller asked whether he was on autopilot, White replied: I'm in the good Lord's hands flying this Niner Delta Whiskey” (in phonetic code used for radiotelephony in aviation it is the spelling for NDW, the callsign of this plane used in radio traffic for unique identification among other planes).
This little story resembles with several interesting teachings for daily life, because under such circumstances nobody could claim to be a hero, rather only a surviver. During personal or corporate crisis it is possible that the most important office to be abandoned due to some special circumstances. It might be the father of a family, a leader of a group, a pastor of a church, a manger of a corporation, or whosoever chief of an assembly, a thing similar to losing the “head” of that thing you belong to.
We have such instances in the flow of the ages, when the commander vanished or was forced to dismiss and the boat remained without the captain or someone to guide how to sail into the dark waters of the ocean. What can you do? You are only a humble, lay person, having only an idea, if case, of how to manage the business, having not the chance to be trained for the right time that stays in front of you.
In several words: How to pilot the plane of your life when the captain is gone? It might be very spiritual and philosophical to think that you have to move forward in spite of this strange limitation, having neither the view of the future, nor the means to fathom it.
In such a situation were the apostles of Jesus Christ, after He had departed from them ascending to the heaven, far enough that nobody to see Him by direct sight, only by what we use to call as being “faith”. How to guide the new born church into the waters of the turbulent ages that had to come and to direct it right to the harbor in due time?
At a lower scale, how to manage your personal life when the father is absent, when the teacher is gone, when nobody is real interested to direct your life, giving the chance o a proper education for the frantic time we face with?
From the little story I’ve mentioned in the beginning I guess that there is only one sure answer for all these questions rightly raised in our minds and it is from the passenger’s testimony: “I'm in the good Lord's hands flying this plane”. Yes, indeed, we are in the good Lord’s hands all over the time and He will give us that special ability to supply our needs in the time of crisis, when the leaders go down from different reasons.
Today you have the chance to experience the tremendous work of the Lord in rescuing you from different “planes” ready to crash because of nobody holding the right course for reaching the final target. It might be a church in dissolution, your company in the middle of the financial crisis, the local authorities going down because of corruption, or even your family and your life. But in all of these, there is Someone there, ready to empower the one who wants to bear the battle to the end.
May the Lord be with you and give you wisdom to pilot the plane of your life irrespective of time. His hands are upon your arms, and His wisdom is over your mind, only if you believe and act accordingly.
The starting story is below. I put here because I am not sure how long it will stay at Yahoo News:
Passenger lands plane in Fla. after pilot dies
By CHRISTINE ARMARIO, Associated Press Writer Christine Armario, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 25 mins ago
TAMPA, Fla. – Doug White and his family had just enjoyed a smooth takeoff and were ascending through the clouds when the pilot guiding their twin-engine plane tilted his head back and made a guttural sound.
The pilot, Joe Cabuk, was unconscious. And though White had his pilot's license, he had never flown a plane as large as this.
"I need help. I need a King Air pilot to talk to. We're in trouble," he radioed.
Then he turned to his wife and two daughters: "You all start praying hard." Behind him, his wife trembled. Sixteen-year-old Bailey cried. Eighteen-year-old Maggie threw up.
White, 56, landed the plane on his own about 30 minutes later, coaxed through the harrowing ordeal by air traffic controllers who described exactly how to bring the aircraft to safety. The pilot died, but White somehow managed.
When a controller asked whether he was on autopilot, White replied: "I'm in the good Lord's hands flying this Niner Delta Whiskey," giving the code for the aircraft.
White had logged about 150 hours recently flying a single-engine Cessna 172 but had no experience flying the faster, larger King Air. He declared an emergency to air traffic controllers — White already knew how to use the radio. On Sunday afternoon, he got his first lesson landing the larger craft.
They were on their way home from Marco Island, where they'd traveled after his brother died from a heart attack the week before. White owns the King Air plane and leases it out through his company, Archibald, La.-based White Equipment Leasing LLC.
White got his pilot's license in 1990, but said 18 years had passed until he recently started flying again.
White had his wife try to remove the pilot from his seat — afraid that he'd slump down and hit the controls.
But the space was too small. His wife couldn't remove him. They strapped him back in, and White sat at the adjacent set of controls.
White knew they were supposed to stop at 10,000 feet, but he watched as they ascended thousands of feet higher.
Flying the Cessna, White said he's never gone higher than 7,000 feet.
White tried to stay calm and listen to the air traffic controllers as they relayed instructions.
"It was a focused fear," he said. "And I was in some kind of a zone that I can't explain."
One of the air traffic controllers called a friend in Connecticut certified in flying the King Air, 43-year-old Kari Sorenson. Sorenson got out his flight checklists, manuals and cockpit layout sheets and issued instructions to the controller. The controller relayed the process to White.
Sorenson told the New Haven Register he hadn't been up in a King Air since 1994 — but he still had all the manuals, and it came back easily.
"After 3,500 hours in an airplane you get right back in it pretty quickly," said Sorenson, who has more than two decades of flight experience.
At one point, White said he tried putting the autopilot back on, but it steered the plane north, as Cabuk had programmed in the flight's destination in Jackson, Miss. They had planned on dropping White off there, where he'd left his truck, and having Cabuk continue on home to Louisiana with the rest of the family.
Flying by hand, White navigated the plane through the descent.
"When I touch down, if I ever touch down, do I just kill the throttle or what?" he asked.
"That's correct," the controller replied. "When you touch down, slowly kill the throttle."
They landed safety shortly after 2 p.m. Fire trucks and EMTs were waiting on ground.
"Looks good from here," the controller said. "Good job."
White said they tried for about 30 minutes to revive Cabuk, the pilot.
The medical examiner's office has not yet determined his cause of death.
A day after the ordeal, White said he could never have done it without the help of the air traffic controllers.
"Heartfelt thanks," he said. "They don't make near enough money, don't get near enough respect for what they do."
Taken from: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090414/ap_on_re_us/passenger_lands_plane