Professional flight training creates confident pessimists. We fly confident that our skill brings us safely to our destination. But we practice for calamity as well. Instructors demand we repeat, with neither hesitation nor doubt, the steps for situations like aborted takeoff, fire in-flight, electrical failure, or landing with a flat tire. We inscribe the six “G’s” for engine failure dream-deep into our psyche:
Glide: Trim the airplane to fly hands off at the best glide speed (maximum distance over the ground). We calculated that speed for the current aircraft weight just before takeoff.
Grass: Immediately turn towards the best spot we can actually reach, taking into account, wind, altitude, distance and surface. We always scan the terrain below for potential landing sites.
Gas: Immediate action steps: Aux Fuel Pump: On; Fuel Selector Valve: Opposite Tank; Throttle: Half Open; Mixture: Lean (until restart occurs); Mixture: Adjust; Throttle: Adjust; Ignition: Check.
Gab: Radio the dispatcher to get help on the way. Brief the passengers about what’s happening and what to do.
Guts: Fly the procedure. Maintain airspeed. Don’t flinch. Fly the airplane until it comes to a complete stop. Courage maintains cockpit discipline.
Get out: Help the passengers, then yourself, get out immediately. Get away from the aircraft until all possibility of fire is gone.
Repeated emergency training prepares pilots to react correctly while time remains for escape, just as regular physical exercise conditions our body’s response to the afflictions of age and disease. When illness strikes, it’s too late to get into shape.
Which, of course, is a lot like walking with Jesus. Following Him trains our spirit’s response to crisis and temptation. Instead of losing our way over the wilderness, we turn to match course with His heart and land in the center of His will.