Emergency Landing

A storm was approaching fast and I was flying right into it!

Posted in , Aug 17, 2010


In 1971, as a newly licensed pilot, I was flying with my flight instructor from Vero Beach, Florida, to Longview, Texas. That night we hit bad weather over Mobile, Alabama, and air-traffic controllers suggested we fly north toward Jackson, Mississippi, to avoid an approaching storm.

As we rose above the clouds, I noticed the instrument panel lights flicker. A minute later, radios and instruments started going dead, then all our lights went out. Our situation was desperate, and as we flew an emergency triangle, we prayed for protection. We decided to drop below the clouds and try to see the ground. Soon we spotted the distant lights of Jackson and headed for the airport’s rotating beacon.

We circled the control tower twice, then got a green light to land. Without any electrical power, we had to lower the landing gear manually. At that moment, all the strobe landing lights came on, and slowly, safely we touched ground. Then the landing lights went off. That’s odd, I thought. At least they could have waited until we taxied to the ramp. It was even odder when a man from the tower asked us, “Who gave you permission to land?”

And then, little by little, we learned that no one in the tower had seen us circling overhead. The green light had been flashed by a traffic controller, who was explaining to his visiting pastor what he would do in case a plane ever attempted to land without radio communication. The emergency landing lights were part of the same demonstration.

Though the whole story can never be explained, I accept it with gratitude, knowing the Lord is watching out for me every day.

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