AFTER a recent crash claiming two occupants of a light plane someone was quoted the deceased had died doing what they loved most. The aftermath of the tragic event advisedly resembled scenes from an air safety book (by you know who) right down to the missing man formation wrapping up the funeral proceedings. However, in the opening statements of the above mentioned work the often heard expression concerning departed aviators is depicted as problematic.
Nothing can be done or said to ease the pain or bring back flying buddies who have lost lives in accidents. Those of us left behind need to ask where our
priorities lie. This article by no means intends to judge or criticize anyone involved and affected by accidents. Far from it!
Such occurrences should serve as wake-up calls we are mortal, temporary, transient, even fragile and as such need to constantly evaluate and search our motives; i.e. why we are doing things and why we're doing it in a certain way... and/or why we're even involved in aviation activities in the first place.
If flying is our 'first love', we need to ask ourselves how we conform to the principles laid down by Jesus Christ. When He had walked the earth (though He had command over the wind and tempests) about 2000 years ago He'd explained in Matthew 6: 21 '…where our treasure is, there will our hearts be'. This does not imply we should not fly or love our planes and our sport, or for that matter, be good at it. In fact, if we subject ourselves to God's Perfect Will for our lives, we can be expected to have 'joy abundantly' and be very good at what we do. But, we need to prioritize and find a balance.
Indeed, as crews and pilots we can in a way become an extension of God's hands, i.e. by bringing rescue, relief and evacuation operations and services often direly needed by those in disaster or war stricken areas; and/or extend His love and compassion by helping to spread the Gospel. Considering the countless lives that have been sacrificed by military and civilian aviators in pursuit of freedom in the continual struggle against aggression and oppression, an aircraft can truly be a Chariot in the service of the Lord.
Yet, as modern aviators in peacetime we often tend to lack purpose and context… and become careless and bold. How?
We lose the plot. Why?
The pursuit of pleasure 'per se', is also called hedonism, and has ourselves and the fulfillment of sensual human desires and pleasures at its core. That can be likened to idolatry in its extreme or ultimate form. Though flying has always been a source of delight to those devoted to its practice and disciplines, seeking a thrill as our sole motivation to fly can often be a warning sign things are pulling skew and out of balance.
The average aviator should indeed strive to be proficient at 'exciting' maneuvers, like the Immelman
e.g. to get out of trouble or tight spots one day. Such maneuvers should have a clear aim and objective and be learnt, briefed, rehearsed and practiced under experienced supervision. Opening our eyes to reality will reveal all around us all forms of random, extreme and unrehearsed expressions of flying - taking fellow pilots to the brink of tragedy and disaster - are the order of the day. Flying can be a vital piece of the puzzle in God's perfect plan and scheme of things. But, we'll miss our opportunities to do good once satisfying our own pleasures become our first priority. We can't see what He has in store for us flying wise if our egos are allowed to get in the way.