Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hanging On For Dear Life

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.  Heb 2:1

In September, 1987, the New York Times reported an unusual mid-air incident.  It happened on a commuter flight to Boston from Portland, Maine.  The plane, a 15-seat Beechcraft 99, belonged to Eastern Express.  The pilot was Henry Dempsey, 46 years old, of Cape Elizabeth.  When he and his co-pilot heard a rattling sound toward the rear, Dempsey left his partner in the cockpit to go and check it out.

Suddenly the aircraft hit turbulence.  Dempsey leaned against the rear stairway door, which was hinged at the bottom, and it flew open. That rear door had not been properly latched prior to take-off. 

The co-pilot, Paul Boucher of Lynn, MA, saw that the ''door ajar'' indicator light was on and realized something had happened, so he changed course and flew to the Portland International Jetport.  He radioed ahead to report the emergency.

Thinking that Dempsey had fallen out of the plane, the staff at the jetport control tower requested that a helicopter crew begin a search.  ''A man called, and said a pilot had been sucked out of a cockpit through an open door and had fallen into the sea,'' said William Falk, a Coast Guard duty officer in South Portland.

People assumed that, when Dempsey was powerfully sucked from the plane, he let go.  
He did not.

Somehow he managed to grab the outer door ladder of the aircraft and hang on to it for the longest ten minutes of his life.  He tumbled forward, grabbed the railings as he fell, and lay upside down on the stairs as the plane cruised at 190 miles per hour at an altitude of 4,000 feet.  During the landing, Dempsey's face was only about 12 inches above the runway.

It took airport personnel several minutes just to pry his fingers from that ladder.

Dempsey, having suffered cuts and bruises, was treated at a local hospital and released.  He had learned firsthand the vital importance of hanging on, no matter what pressure he might have allowed to pull him away.

As Priscilla J. Owens wrote: 
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.

Check your grip on Jesus Christ.  Read the Word.  Pray fervently.  Get involved.  Share your faith.  As you do, you will secure your hold, even through forceful turbulence, until you land safely home by His grace.

Cory Collins

No comments: