Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Better Vantage Point, part II

Recently, in late summer I’ve experienced some beautiful sights and challenging work days: a vertical moon beam projected downward through a narrow gap in the clouds, an expansive and vibrant rainbow, cumulus clouds that carry a punch greater than their looks, the real milky way coupled with meteors, cloud shadows trying to camouflage themselves as the woods in hill valley bottoms below, ‘embedded’ thunderstorms trying to hide behind haze and surrounding stratus clouds, a selection of ‘interesting’ (to say the least) Flight Attendants, an ATC induced go-around at Philadelphia and Indianapolis, and a few long, delayed duty days.

But for this second ‘vantage point’, I’d like to take you back in time a few years to just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, when I was based in Denver as a Captain flying the Beechcraft 1900 turboprop.

Flying for Great Lakes was basically driving me nuts, because during the fall of 2001I was getting junior manned to fly as a First Officer instead of as a Captain, and junior manned down to ten days off a month as well. I was able to switch bases to Minneapolis-St. Paul, and hoped for a lighter schedule load, and some adventurous winter flying. I learned that Vanguard Airlines, out of Kansas City, was growing their fleet and switching from 737’s to MD-80’s. KC is halfway between Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I grew up, and where we still live now in northwestern Iowa. It was kind of like a attracting an insect to a blue light.

That was the flying career situation for me by the spring of 2002. With tens of thousands of ‘heavy iron’ drivers furloughed or about to be furloughed from the majors, and none of the low cost carriers hiring, Vanguard seemed like a great place to go, until the majors and low cost carriers started hiring again, at least.

Their minimums were 1000 hours turbine PIC (pilot in command), but I applied anyway with 800 Turbine PIC, and got no response. After applying again with 1100, things happened quickly. I was soon in Vanguard’s ground school in Long Beach, California, experiencing a cool and rainy ‘So Cal’ spring while drinking up the MD-80’s systems ground school course from a fire hose, as the saying goes.

I had never flown a jet before, not a LearJet, and not a CitationJet. I was a little intimidated, because this was ‘Mad Dog’ jet, aptly named because of the MD initials and because the flying and handling characteristics aren’t reputed to be near as nice as the jets Mr. Boeing builds. Several fellow students in my class were veterans of Vanguard’s 737, and after learning about the McDonnell-Douglas product they recycled the old joke ‘Boeing builds airplanes, Douglas builds character’ among us. For an interesting page on the MD-80, click here.

After learning that the aircrafts’ roll control and pitch control wasn’t by hydraulics and was only by cable and ‘control tabs’, these same pilots said the MD-80 was the ‘0riginal fly by wire jet – on a one-eighth inch cable’. The ‘80’ was a stretched version of the DC-9, which had the same type of flight control system. The MD-80 also ushered in some new technology to the airlines, but it did so using an old style cockpit display and instrumentation. It had the ‘old school’ style ‘six pack’ of flight instruments in front of each pilot, but with an electronic display version of the attitude and horizontal situation indicator (EATT and EHSI). Added on was an advanced flight guidance system for the autopilot, automatic thrust control for the engines (autothrottles), and a flight management system (FMS). All this advancement in technology was meant to reduce the workload of the pilots, but because of the way it was cobbled together with the same usual instrumentation, plus additional panels for all the new technology, meant that in a way this aircraft actually increased the workload required by the pilots. I found this out quickly when flying it, and after transitioning later in my career to aircraft which have a full EFIS (Electronic Flight Instrumentation System) presentation on six TV like flight displays, I appreciated ‘full glass’ much more.

Once in the simulator, I found out that the quirks this jet had were true, the flying characteristics were like nothing I’ve ever flown before, even considering that I had never flown a jet. It was like being on the front end of a struggling sky dart. I was happy with how I made it through training in the simulator. However, once I started flying the real plane and got checked out online, it was an anxious transition. The controls felt funny, and it was a long jet, so long that I couldn’t see the wings from the seat. I was apprehensive about where to look, what to touch, and what the plane was going to do next.

The flight guidance system, which controlled the autopilot and flight director, was fully functional, but had to be used gingerly and wisely, or one would risk giving the passengers an uncomfortable and jerky ride. The same thinking went regarding the autothrottles. On line, good technique necessitated that we lead and lag the autothrottles thrust settings, and program a descent or climb rate slowly. Otherwise the passengers would get pushed or pulled in their seats too much.

The FMA – the flight mode annunciator, was a panel which displayed the armed and active modes of the autopilot and flight director. On a more modern EFIS aircraft the flight modes are shown just above the attitude indication, so in result, this separate panel actually increased our work scan: it was another instrument to include in our ‘scan’.

Hand flying the jet was interesting. Lag in the control response was to be expected, especially in pitch. In pitch the force felt in the control yoke was springy and spongy, light at first but it increased at a non-linear rate. There was a large null spot where the aircraft was trimmed out, where movement of the yoke seemed to not affect the pitch attitude of the aircraft at all. It was light in roll, and the yoke was spring centered back to neutral when released. When the yoke reached 5 degrees deflection, the roll spoilers deployed, and the roll rate increased suddenly. The rudder was the only surface powered hydraulically.

Click here for a good link to a few pictures of Vanguard's Md-80's. My first landing in one, with my hands on the controls was a doozey, oh it was! Seeing in my peripheral vision my Check Airman Captain reaching for yoke during flare is not a good thing. I had already increased back pressure during the flare, and didn’t know just where the ground was, so to speak. I was trying to land it ‘like the simulator’, how I had been told. But the sight picture out the window was totally different than I was used to, as at touchdown the deck height above the ground in the ‘80’ is quite a few feet higher than in the 1900. I knew this, and tried to compensate for it. Observing the plane sink the last ten feet down to the runway surface is a useful clue while landing, but it takes a while to get used to the sight picture in order to discern this. In a long jet the nose is increasing in pitch angle as you land, this mitigates the sink sight clues somewhat. The radio altimeter had called out our height above the ground from 50 feet down in ten foot increments. Well, it was supposed to be ten foot increments. “50-30-20-10” bam! Somewhere far behind me (72 feet or thereabouts) the tires hit like a body part hitting furniture while walking in slumber in a friend’s dark house. We didn’t bounce, I realized as I perceived the cockpit bulkhead shaking behind us in a wave of reverberation from the point of impact. Ugh, oh well. Chuck, my Check Airman, didn’t ask for a hard landing inspection after we both gave it a good once over during the post flight inspection. That was good, and I hoped I could redeem myself. The next few landings went better, fortunately!

There are similarities between learning and flying a new and unfamiliar airplane and growing spiritually in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Apprehension, anxiety, excitement/joy, and exhilaration can and will be experienced from one moment to the next, side by side. A classic phrase from aviation (the movie Top Gun) is "highway to the danger zone", and the similar phrase in Christianity describing spiritual growth, especially in mission, is to "get out of your comfort zone". A sense of purpose, mission, and challenge that each arena has can help provide motivation to fulfill the hopes and goals presented. Most of all, learning a new plane or growing in Christ isn’t best done alone; one is much more productive being engaged with the intimate personal assistance, teaching, and learning involved in each endeavor.

In ‘A better Vantage Point, Part I’ in August I wrote a little about the Vantage Point 3 program, a discipleship course my wife and I were in last year at our church. I’ll share with you now the details of the course. In part III (there’s a part III? ;) I’ll share the changes I’ve experienced as a result.

VP3 (for short) has helped to spark a process of renewal in both of our lives and in our marriage. Growing in Christ can be difficult; we’ve learned again that growing pains aren’t only for children. As Christians, it’s often easy to feel comfortable where we are in our spiritual lives. VP3 is a ministry based in Sioux Falls, SD, and their purpose is to develop emerging leaders for the church, to call and enable Christians to become who they are destined to be in Christ Jesus. It’s much like a discipleship group, but it operates a little differently. Our group of five men and nine women, plus our facilitator/associate Pastor, met together for an hour and a half each week. The sessions presented challenging thoughts and questions, and involved personal introspection and sharing from all of us.

The first stage of VP3 was called Biblical Foundations of Leadership. From a scripturally personal standpoint, I became reacquainted with my Christian foundations, and articulated my own personal biblical values. It was a confrontational experience to consider the values I say I have verses how I actually live them out. I was asked to consider and draft a personal biblical mandate.

As a class, we read four books. My two favorites were In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen, and The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner. Nouwen has a unique but sound angle to our relationship with Jesus and how he can authentically be lived out in our lives. One big concept Nouwen expresses is that we should seek to be irrelevant to other people, not relevant, as one would assume. Why? Because as we are irrelevant to others while in relationship with them, they see and receive us as vulnerable, naked, and stripped to the core of our being. A being which has Christ lived out of us in Love, sacrifice, suffering, and serving others purely, just as Jesus did when he walked the earth. They can only respond in two ways: receive us as we are in Christ’s Love, or reject us.

Knowing God was of course a focus of VP3, but more emphasis was put on knowing your self, in that knowing yourself better, you can know God better as well, and thus permit God to indwell in the real you. David Benner’s great book The Gift of Being Yourself does a lot for the reader in that process; it is a deep book that I’ll read again this year. This is a concept which I hadn’t heard much about, and is very refreshing.

We were asked to write a personal faith narrative, framed by our life stories and events. In recounting my spiritual journey, I came to grips with my victories and my defeats, the times I’ve accepted the call of Christ and the times I’ve turned and gone my own way, and the pain it caused myself and others. I remembered and honored the ‘God things’ I’ve experienced: the events and moments in my life when I have truly seen or felt God and his grace and mercy, and the Holy Spirit act on my behalf. It is my story of God ‘meeting me where I’m at’ in my personal relationship with him, and it has great value to me. Nothing can take away my experiences of God acting personally in my life, leading me back into a right, fruitful, and intimate relationship with him, one step at a time. My VP3 brothers shared our stories with each other, and grew closer to each other in the process.

VP3 emphasized mentoring, both having a mentor during VP3 and becoming a mentor for others. A Christian mentor is more than an accountability partner; a mentor is brother or sister in Christ who listens to the song from your soul. A good mentor is a trusted and close friend, one you can bear your heart to, your spiritual and heartfelt victories, defeats, hang-ups, bitterness, questions, doubts, and one who will challenge you and teach you how to move forward, and to mentor others as well. I believe mentoring is a key to increasing the number of committed and discipled Christians in our nation and world. A united community of mentoring and mentored Christians will produce a harvest the church and the Lord will rejoice over.

The last stage of VP3, Functional Foundations of Leadership, is one I’m still grappling with. What habits and characteristics does a successful Christian leader have? What will I do to ensure I grow into and remain an emerging Christian Leader?

These last two paragraphs give a short version of a couple of the changes I've had as a result of VP3.
These days I have a more central and singular purpose in my life, and it all boils down to Jesus. Sure, my wife and children provide deep meaning and satisfaction to me, but my best person is in relationship with them through Christ. Ultimately, he gives me the deepest meaning, purpose, and satisfaction I have in my life. It sounds crazy, but it’s true.

As much as I love flying a jet through the sky, I sincerely don’t think I would keep doing it if it wasn’t for God sustaining me through the hard times of struggle and sacrifice. Doing it in Christ, through Christ, and for Christ helps me to continue packing for a five day trip away from my wife and family, with a half day commute on both sides.
Praise our one holy and true God!
And thanks again for visiting my blog.

Friday, September 11, 2009

When September ends

You scraped it on something, or hit it accidentally. The reopened wound hurts; nerve synapses fire and deliver jabbing, wincing pain. Perhaps even blood and pus oozes, and tears flow, in a fresh remembrance of the injury. It’s gross and uncomfortable, and can illicit bitter questions, sadness, and anger anew. For many Americans, myself included.

Remembering the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks is like dealing with a scab that has trouble healing.

I’d like to commiserate with all Americans affected by the 9/11 attacks, especially those deeply affected in a personal way. This event of Biblical proportions has changed us and history significantly, forever.

By late summer of 2001 I had been a Captain for Great Lakes for six months, flying the Beechcraft 1900. I had just returned home from dropping off my precious one year old daughter at her day care at a quaint farmplace a few miles from town. My lovely wife was working a nursing shift at the hospital. We had moved to northwestern Iowa a few months earlier, and I turned on the Today show to check the weather. I was going to pack and drive to Omaha, then fly to Denver to start a trip with Great Lakes.

Something didn’t look right with the picture of the World Trade Center in New York City; it had a huge, smoking gash in it, with towering flames licking the shiny steel beams. An eyewitness said a plane or missile had hit it, and on such a beautiful day. Immediately I knew it wasn’t done by a missile or a small plane, and got a very bad feeling. Moments later I, along with perhaps millions of other Americans, saw the other jetliner hit the second WTC on live TV.

At that moment I had a strong suspicion that I wasn’t going anywhere, and I knew that this event would change us all and change history. Over the next few hours I was reduced to screaming and pleading at the TV, my emotions pacing and ranging from anger, to anguish and sadness, to incredulousness, to helplessness, to resolve, to prayerfulness, and back again. Not one, but two large airliners had been hijacked, and flown on suicide missions into the WTC buildings. Then, like a living nightmare, the hits kept coming, first the Pentagon, then what next? United 93 impacted a field in Pennsylvania after passengers revolted (United 93’s CVR confirms the hijacker pilot intentionally did this).

One big question of the moment I had wasn’t why, but how: “We’re ‘the greatest country in the world’, how could this happen? We have the FBI, CIA, NSA, INS, FAA, Interpol, all their technology, and everything else, and we have the mightiest Air Force on earth, how could this happen?”

My other big question of the moment wasn’t whether the WTC’s will come down, but when. I’m still confounded as to why the WTC security told occupants of the second building to return to their offices before their building was hit. Many more lives could have been saved if they hadn’t done so.

I called my relatives and friends, and Great Lakes crew scheduling. Crew scheduling told me to sit tight, my trip wasn’t cancelled yet. With the smart and soon move of the FAA to ground ALL aircraft, it became very apparent that I wasn’t going anywhere on this day. I was blessed by this; I would’ve absolutely hated getting stuck somewhere (in our great country) sitting with the airplane, and away from my family, for three days until the sky opened up again. My wife would’ve hated it too.

That night churches all across the country, as well as in own our town, held prayer vigils. I didn’t attend any but I did pray, and afterwards more questions surfaced in me, on top of the most painful ones I had. Self centered and selfish I’ll admit they were, but I felt they were ones I had to consider. What will happen to the major airlines now, and their hiring plans? Will I be able to advance to a better job soon? When will the airlines fly again, and what kind of security restrictions will be in place? Will I have a secure, financially rewarding, or safe future in airline flying?

I was flying for Great Lakes again after about five days. The frequencies were very quiet, traffic was mostly non-existent, and the mood was very somber. The attack, and the responses our country had to them, was the deserved focus we had for the next few weeks, months, and years.

The scale of the human tragedy was on a scale we couldn’t comprehend. After it was all boiled down, a resolve for vengeance and justice, and a desire for the security of our people were left. And in large measure, our country’s military and government has taken on that task and performed it fairly well, for good or bad, depending on your politics and beliefs. There certainly have been missteps, and maybe a misplaced war, but I am not going to address that here, this time. This is for the victims, and for personally dealing with the aftermath. This was such a large event of terrorism that all of us are victims, in a sense.

In our peaceful, ‘Christian’, Americanized, materialized, and comforting culture it’s difficult to understand why a group of extremist Islamic terrorists were willing to train for and carry out these despicable terrorist attacks. Another difficult thing to understand is the fact that there are Americans among us who believe untenable, unsound conspiracy theories about these attacks.

And these aren’t your garden variety theories like ‘In different ways the government and Military left the door wide open to these terrorists to attack us, so we could justify the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and control their countries, control the oil and gas there, and attempt to foster peace, democracy, and capitalism in the region’.

These untenable and unsound theories surround the technicalities of the attacks, and don’t have a sound scientific footing. Many of them border on the absurd: the airliners were flown into the buildings under separate radio control (the pilots were unable to overtake control of their own airliners); the Pentagon attack was a missile, not an airliner; United 93 was shot down, not crashed intentionally by the hijackers; the WTC’s had explosives planted inside their structures, otherwise they wouldn’t have fallen; WTC 7 was imploded by the NYFD (even though it was damaged heavily by falling WTC tower debris and had a large interior fire from an emergency diesel generator fire which had heavily damaged the building); and the craziest one of all: the planes didn’t hit the buildings, it was all trick video photography, and the bombs placed inside all the buildings only made it look this way (this would require a huge media conspiracy).

Popular mechanics magazine and National Geographic magazine (Nat Geo channel) have two great websites which refute these claims with solid scientific evidence. Click on the links to check them out, to help you counter the next ‘Truther’ who sits next to you on the airplane.

God won’t answer all the questions of why this happened, he doesn’t work that way. God wants us to desire him, to yearn to follow him, to have a personal spiritual relationship with him. Answering all of our questions (which diminish in importance when compared to his desire for us to have true, eternal life with him and through him) is not his first priority, having a right personal spiritual relationship with him is. Here is a site by Reverend Mark D. Roberts which has some reflections on 9/11 and faith.

However, God can and will give you peace about it, ‘a peace which surpasses all understanding’ from (Philippians 4:7). The ‘lover of my soul’ can also calm your fears and help you to walk in a peaceful field. God is sovereign; we don’t know his ways or his plans, and if we did we might not understand them. He does have a plan for your future, for my future, and for the future of our world and country, and his plans won’t be thwarted.

If you were directly or deeply affected by the 9/11 attacks, you have my sympathies. In Matthew 5:4 Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”.

From Psalm 34:4 and 34:18, the Father of us all delivers comfort: 4 “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears (NKJV); 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” (NLT).

There is a plan, and Romans 8:28-39 gives more insight and comfort to believers: “ 28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:

"For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."

37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NIV)

To be sure, my stance is that no, we don’t know why God permits such great pain and evil to be present in this world, but that he is our great comforter and peacegiver. Being open to and interested in the message and the mystery of the gospel is a first step not to making sense of these events, but to gaining a greater peace about it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hope's not giving up

(Originally written on September 1st, 2009)

Yesterday, the second day of my current three day trip, we had this beautiful dawn scene from the hotel van on the way to the airport. The promising, glorious light, framed by the dark and cold concrete, seemed to give me hope for a beautiful day. And we did have a nice, easy, and beautiful day of flying, from Rochester to Boston Mass to Indianapolis, Indiana, better known as 'Indy' or 'the Brickyard'.

The citrus toned sunrise gave way to a yellow sky and dark silhouetted wilderness and terrain on the way to very historic Boston. The air-port (get it?) is right next to the ocean bay there in Boston, and a very picturesque scene it is. I flew an enjoyable visual approach to runway 22L (towards the southwest), with the saltwater on my left and downtown Boston in front of us, slightly to our right. Dealing with a light crosswind from the right made me pay attention to what I was doing.

Inside the terminal I grabbed some breakfast and had time to read, think, and pray a bit. The mood was bright and friendly, and I noticed Boston business travelers with coffee and plans for the day. The flight to Indy (nonstop, surprisingly) had only 17 peeps, business fliers mostly.

While taxiing out on Boston's complex taxiways I snuck a peek and marveled at a huge, tall cruise ship docking at the nearby pier, it must have been eight stories up from the deck, with a sky bridge for the passengers too. After a takeoff in smooth air I activated the autopilot at 600 feet to enjoy the views during the climbout over the denizens and citizenry of 'Baasten'. They were no doubt still mourning and remembering Teddy Kennedy, who as we all know, perhaps too much so from cable news, recently passed on.

I supposed that many below were considering who will replace 'TK' and try to honor and carry on his legacy, over frank Boston talk and coffee (Boston 'coffee talk', if you will). If you disagree with Ted Kennedy's politics or life actions, so be it, but the man cared deeply about the common American, a good quality in any person regardless. Disclaimer over; it's my impression that Bostonians aren't afraid to say what's on their minds, aren't timid in expressing themselves, aren't hesitant to share their hopes and dreams for the future. Hope was becoming a theme for the morning in my emotions and my spirit.

Headed westbound later, at 30,000 feet and 515 MPH, we were running from the sun behind our backs, and appreciating the scene in the sky. Over central Pennsylvania, somewhere near Phillipsburg, we started picking up an ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) siren loudly emitting on the emergency frequency (121.5 Mhz). My First Officer told New York Center, and the friendly voice responded "yea they had a little accident yesterday". Looking down it was all Appalachian ridges and mountains, relatively tall ones, seen between scattered cumulus in a loose formation below us. Together, my FO and I wondered what happened, and HOPED that they were OK, whatever did happen. When an ELT keeping going off, it means the ELT hasn't been turned off yet, for whatever reason. Survivors of accidents keep the ELT on many times so that rescuers can easily find the wreckage. The other possibility was that rescuers hadn’t reached the wreckage yet, and the survivors, well, there were none. We didn't ask if they were OK, I would have rather not known, would rather be confident in the HOPE that they were OK.

The loose formation of the scattered line of cumulus clouds arrayed in a long, curving path to the horizon below, produced by the properties of the airmass in the present weather; there is an order to them, I feel. It communicates an order, and is a sign in the sky that at this present moment leads somewhere, leads me in a spiritual urgency to realize that all humanity needs to, and does have an ultimate, highest hope in something or someone.

We all have a highest hope, one which we invest in more than any other for our future happiness and satisfaction in life, and in death. This is the realm of StarWars, Princess Leia type hope. Who can forget when she, in her sparkling white gown and huge headphone brunette hairdo, kneels in front of R2D2, and pleads “Obi-wan Kenobi, you are my only hope”, and thus records a hologram message she hopes will be delivered to him.

My highest hope is in Jesus Christ; you certainly know this by now if you’ve been following this blog. I could have my ‘only’ hope invested in an airline pilot career, in perusing wealth and material things, in a government or belief system, in a politician or President, in my spouse, in my children, in a hobby, in mankind to achieve a united world peace and order (secular Humanism), or any number of other things. But by experience and desire (that I believe the Holy Spirit has put in my heart), Jesus Christ is my Hope with a capital H. The Apostle Paul calls Jesus our hope in I Timothy 1:1.
Before expanding on this, I feel there are a couple interesting things about hope I'd like to express.
"Hope's not giving up, hope's not giving up; in the cold, dark night, hope's not giving, not giving up." A line in this song by Christian band Remedy Drive readily shows that the nature of hope is that it doesn't give up until proven otherwise. Clink the link to hear it.
Hope for it's own sake of hope amounts to vanity. Example: it's foolish to hope that it won't rain when the forecast is a 100% chance for it to do so. It's much better to invest hope in something tangible: an idea, an attitude, a philosophy, a belief system, a government, a religion, a God, a person, (a person who is God?).
What encompasses the hope I have in the hope that is Jesus Christ? I'll let John Piper explain it much better, from I Peter 1:3-13, and ‘The Power of Hope’, a 1981 Easter Sunday sermon on his blog, Desiring God.
My Hope, Jesus, gives me an ultimate purpose, meaning, and satisfaction, for this life and after this life. Sometimes, a lot of of the time if I'm honest, I don't know exactly what that purpose and meaning is, but I think it has something to do with the presence of my Holy Savior being lived out in me. The Holy Spirit gives me the power to permit that to happen. The trick is in doing it consistently and honestly, and for that, I have hope that in God's grace and mercy I will continue on that path.

Let me share one last scripture, and I'll go for now. From Hebrews 11:1: Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. We can all have hope invested in something or someone, but invested in the incredible person of Jesus Christ we can have a living, loving faith. That is a hope that's not giving up.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pot of ???? at the end of the Rainbow

I haven't posted for a while, but I haven't been completely slothful. I've been busy trying to housetrain our new 'Shipoo' puppy (when I've been home), I'm trying to help plan our triplet 40th birthday party, and am studying for a six month Checkride I'll have soon. I have three or four blog posts I haven't put the finishing touches on yet. They're easy to start, harder to finish!
Recently a nice thunderstorm skirted Charlotte as we landed, giving us a nice little wind shear on final approach. Our airspeed increased 20 knots, definitely getting our attention, at about 500 feet AGL on final. My good FO 'Bob' was flying, and the passengers hardly felt a bump from it. We knew windshear was possible due to the radar returns, the clouds and rain just off the airport boundary, and the dust getting kicked up into the air on the west side of the airport (we were landing towards the north, on the east side of the airport). I thought we might get a windshear caution, but we didn't, continued and taxied in, waiting for the rain.
Then, after the storm passed, this incredible rainbow formed right in front of us as we were in a long line for takeoff. We watched the whole thing for about 15 minutes while in line. I was able to take this picture and a number of other ones.
Those of you in the know remember Genesis chapter 9, and the rainbow God made for Noah as a sign of the covenant between He (God) and mankind. In this covenant God promised Noah and his sons that he would never again kill all living creatures with floodwaters. When God makes a covenant, you can count on him keeping his promise. Reading the Bible assures us of this in many places.
As far as what is in the pot at the end of the rainbow goes, that is probably a good blog post subject for the future. After the last decade of tumultuous years in the the airlines, I don't think it is gold anymore!