Sunday, May 22, 2011

Final Tribute to the Huey

This is the speech given at Ft Rucker when they retired the last Huey:
CW4 Lawrence Castagneto, 17 May 2011

"Thank you Sir"
As a Vietnam Veteran Army Aviator, I would like to thank everyone for coming
to this special occasion, on this to be honest...very sad day, the end of an
era. An era that has spanned over 50 years. The retirement of this grand old
lady "OUR MOTHER" ... the Huey.

I would like to thank, MG Crutchfield for allowing me to speak at this event
and try to convey in my own inadequate, meager way.. what this aircraft
means to me and so many other Vietnam veterans.

First a few facts:

It was 48 yrs ago this month that the first Huey arrived in Vietnam with
units that were to become part of the 145th and the 13th Combat Aviation
Battalions; both units assigned here at Ft Rucker today. While in Vietnam,
the Huey flew approximately 7,457,000 combat assault sorties; 3,952,000
attack or gunship sorties and 3,548,000 cargo supply sorties. That comes to
over 15 million sorties flown over the paddies and jungles of Nam, not to
include the millions of sorties flown all over the world and other combat
zones since then ....what a amazing journey.... I am honored and humbled to
have been a small part of that journey.

To those in the crowd that have had the honor to fly, crew, or ride this
magnificent machine in combat, we are the chosen few, the lucky ones. They
understand what this aircraft means, and how hard it is for me to describe
my feelings about her as a Vietnam combat pilot.... for she is alive... has
a life of her own, and has been a life long friend.

How do I break down in a few minutes a 42 year love affair, she is as much a
part of me, and to so many others,,,as the blood that flows through our
veins. Try to imagine all those touched over the years the shadow of
her blades.

Other aircraft can fly overhead and some will look up and some may not; or
even recognize what they see but, when a Huey flies over everyone looks up
and everyone knows who she is... young or old all over the world she
connects with all.

To those that rode her into combat... the sound of those blades causes our
heart beat to rise... and breaths to quicken... in anticipation of seeing
that beautiful machine fly overhead and the feeling of comfort she brings.
No other aircraft in the history of aviation evokes the emotional response
the Huey does... combat veteran's or not... she is recognized all around the
world by young and old, she is the ICON of the Vietnam war, U.S. Army
Aviation, and the U.S. Army. Over 5 decades of service she carried Army
Aviation on her back, from bird dogs and piston powered helicopters with a
secondary support mission, to the force multiplier combat arm that Army
Aviation is today.

Even the young aviators of today, that are mainly Apache pilot's, Blackhawk
pilot's, etc., that have had a chance to fly her will tell you there is no
greater feeling, honor, or thrill then to be blessed with the opportunity to
ride her thru the sky... they may love their Apaches and Blackhawks, but
they will say there is no aircraft like flying the Huey " it is special".
There are two kinds of helicopter pilots: those that have flown the Huey and
those that wish they could have.

The intense feelings generated for this aircraft are not just from the
flight crews but, also from those who rode in back ...into and out of the
"devils caldron". As paraphrased here from "Gods own lunatics", Joe
Galloway's tribute to the Huey and her flight crews and other Infantry
veterans comments:

Is there anyone here today who does not thrill to the sound of those Huey
blades?? That familiar whop-whop-whop is the soundtrack of our war...the
lullaby of our younger days it is burned in to our brains and our hearts. To
those who spent their time in Nam as a grunt, know that noise was always a
great comfort... Even today when I hear it, I stop...catch my breath...and
search the sky for a glimpse of the mighty eagle.

To the pilots and crews of that wonderful machine ...we loved you, we loved
that machine.

No matter how bad things were...if we called ... you came... down through
the hail of green tracers and other visible signs of a real bad day off to a
bad start. I can still hear the sound of those blades churning the fiery
sky ....To us you seemed beyond brave and fearless... Down you would come to
us in the middle of battle in those flimsy thin skin -chariots ...into the
storm of fire and hell,..

...we feared for you, we were awed by you. We thought of you and that
beautiful bird as " God's own lunatics"... and wondered ...who are theses
men and this machine and where do they come from ...... Have to be "Gods

So with that I say to her, that beautiful lady sitting out there, from me
and all my lucky brothers, that were given the honor to serve their country,
and the privilege of flying this great lady in skies of Vietnam - Thank you
for the memories...Thank you for always being there...Thank you for always
bringing us home regardless of how beat up and shot up you were..., Thank

You will never be forgotten, we loved you then..... we love you now... and
will love you till our last breath ...

And as the sun sets today, if you listen quietly and closely you will hear
that faint wop wop wop of our mother speaking to all her children past and
present who rode her into history in a blaze of glory ...she will be saying
to them: I am here... I will always be here with you.

I am at peace and so should you be ... and so should you be.

I worked with Larry (Lawrence Castagneto) when I taught instruments at ACE. My mom also knows Larry. What an honor to have been chosen to give the last official good bye to the huey! Good job Larry!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Helicopter Crash in Alaska

NTSB Report
This was the only crash I experienced in my flying career. My boss told me afterward that if you stay in this business long enough, there are those that have and those that will.

There is a negative safety attitude in aviation where someone says, "It can't happen to me." Any time I buckle into a helicopter I realize I might not have the opportunity to unbuckle. I'm very fortunate in the above event that I was able to unbuckle. I'm also very grateful that I didn't lose my dog. I view flying as an exercise in stacking the deck in your favor. Even though you are able to do that, you never really know how the cards may fall.

We were camped at Charlie Lake Alaska.
View Larger Map I didn't remember the lake name from the previous story of Sadie not wanting a bath. On the morning of our crash the survey crew consisting of an instrument man and a rod girl requested I take them back to the place they were working the previous afternoon.

I pulled on some rain boots and called Sadie to go with us. The Hughes 500 has a bench seat in front that can sit three. The pilot sat on the left side and the instrument man sat on the right. Sadie sat in the middle. Molly the rod girl sat in the back.

It was a pleasant flight to the job location. I returned to the same ridge I had landed on the previous afternoon. After touching down I reevaluated the wind conditions. The crew really needed to go to a rocky outcrop on the end of the ridge. I made them hike there the previous day because the winds were not favorable for landing on the rocky outcrop. The winds were considerably calmer this morning, so I asked the crew if they would like for me to get them closer to where they needed to go. They said yes.

I increased pitch to get airborne again and proceeded to the rocky outcrop at a high hover. When I reduced my collective pitch to descend on my chosen landing spot at a five thousand foot elevation I experienced a left yaw followed by warning lights illuminating with audio alerts. It was all the indications of an engine failure. In a turbine helicopter, if the engine is going to quit it will most likely quit when you make a power adjustment either up or down. I had just reduced my power.

My training kicked in and I automatically reacted. I reduced my collective to full down to enter autorotation while applying right pedal and reducing my throttle to flight idle. Then I evaluated my potential landing area. It was rocky and craggy with no good area to sit down safely with a power off landing. I reasoned that there was a high potential of ending up rolling down the mountain. My brain said I needed to get farther away from the mountain to try to autorotate to a better area. I then instinctively did what could have been a very dangerous maneuver.

I simultaneous increased collective and moved the cyclic to get us farther away from the mountain. We went from 15 to 20 feet AGL (Above Ground Level) to 300 feet AGL in a split second. This was a critical maneuver because when the engine quits only centrifugal force and the wind feeding through the rotor system will keep it spinning. If you do not reduce power or if you increase power like I did after reducing it you will slow your rotor system down. If it gets below a certain point you will not be able to regain enough rotor RPM to autorotate safely and you will fall like a rock.

All of this happened much faster than I can tell the story. After moving laterally away from the mountain I told myself that I have to now lower my collective and take what I get. Because if I didn't we would fall like a rock. I once again lowered my collective to full down. The 300 feet of AGL altitude I had gained, not by climbing but by moving laterally away from the mountain top quickly diminished as the aircraft fell closer to the mountain side. But, as it fell my rotor RPM increased and I increased airspeed. It seems like we fell to within a yard of the mountain. Then we scooted along the steep slope of the mountain for what seems like a good 700 feet until I got enough airspeed to pull away from the mountain.

My pucker factor was pretty cranked up as we scooted a mere few feet above the surface of the slope. I know I was praying as I willed the aircraft from hitting the mountain. After scooting along the slope for what seemed at least 700 feet and finally getting enough airspeed to pull away from the mountain I relaxed some. Whoa, that was close, but we still weren't safely across the finish line.

I had a split decision now. I could turn up the valley and try to make some nice flat tundra off in the distance. If I could make the tundra that would be very nice. But, before I got there I would have to cross some tall trees and a cliff. I wasn't sure if I could glide that far and terminating in the trees and cliff could easily be catastrophic. The other choice was turning down canyon. From my altitude it looked like I had a choice of a multitude of gravel bars with no tall trees or cliffs. This choice had a slight four knot tail wind. It is almost always better to land into the wind, but as inviting as the tundra seemed if I could make it the gravel bars seemed like the more conservative course to take. So I chose it.

After making this decision I checked all of my flight instruments. My engine had not completely failed. I apparently had a low side governor failure. I next rolled my throttle completely on hoping my engine would recover. It did not. I should have then closed my throttle completely and turned my fuel switch off, but through hangar flying I had a small amount of poison introduced into my thinking. Normally hangar flying is beneficial, but in this case a buddy told me about a friend of his that had an engine failure and after the crash they put the aircraft engine on a testbed and could find nothing wrong with it. So, they accused my friend's friend of rolling his own throttle off. So stupidly I decided to leave my throttle full on. I told myself that no one will accuse me of rolling my own throttle off. I also told myself that having been a military instructor pilot I had done many practice autorotations and this would simply be like one of those.

Also a little pride kicked in. I had been trained well and considered myself to be a good pilot. I thought of calling my boss after a successful termination and teasing him about needing a new engine if I did a good job on setting this bird down without power.

This period of time was like the eye of the storm. A hurricane hits with a lot of violence. If the eye of the storm passes over you it becomes peaceful, but another wallop is soon to follow.

As I got closer to what I thought were gravel bars from three thousand feet above I realized they were not gravel bars but bolder bars. Before I touched down I told myself that I was going to need more than a new engine landing to this mess. I knew I was going to take damage. I just didn't know how much.

At fifty feet I decelerated my aircraft to lose forward airspeed. At ten to fifteen feet I applied some cushioning collective pitch, then just prior to touch down I applied the remainder of my collective pitch to effect a soft touchdown. And we did touchdown soft and pretty right on top of two large boulders. Good job Robert! Pride well deserved! (Don't you know pride comes before a fall)

The top of the two boulders were not sufficient enough to support the helicopter, so it rocked back and the tail rotor struck the ground. All was quiet though. I thought it was over. We had safely crossed the finish line.

I could tell Sadie was concerned. She had never experienced a landing like this. After everything came to rest I released all the controls and turned to Sadie to tell her everything was going to be alright.

I got "Sadie, everything is going to..." out of my mouth when because of the slight jarring of the tail rotor striking the ground and the large collective pitch increase which tells the governor that the engine needs more fuel what ever had malfunctioned decided to right itself. A ton of fuel got shot to my helicopter's engine with my collective pitch full up.

You can find a debate among helicopter pilots about what to do with the throttle in the situation I faced. Some say leave it full on to get a little assistance at the bottom. All the Army manuals say close the throttle completely and turn off the main fuel prior to touchdown. If I had followed those manuals I would have had a head swollen with pride from the excellent job I had done setting that disabled helicopter down. I learned the hard way why they say to shut everything down.

Rocky Mountain Dave

When my engine received that full shot of fuel we ended up back in the air swapping ends as fast as the rotor blades turn. We were spinning so fast that outside was not a blur, it was just one solid color. My head was shaking so violently I thought it could literally shake off of my body. If I had not let go of my controls to tell Sadie everything was going to be alright, I would have immediately closed my throttle. As it was centrifugal force would not allow me to get back to the controls.

These thoughts went through my head, I thought of calling my boss previously and teasing him after doing a good job, now I wondered if I would get to call him, then I wondered if I would get to call anybody. Then the realization hit me that this was going to kill us, it was really going to kill us. When that thought hit me, I shouted as loud as I could, "God I want to live!".

The quiet was instantaneous. I had to look down at myself to check that I was still alive. When I realized I was I asked my passengers if they were okay. They both said they were. I then said, "well lets get out of this thing".

There was a small engine fire. I got the aircraft's fire extinguisher and put the fire out. Everything that was loose in the helicopter was scattered all over the boulder bar. Papers were everywhere and Sadie Dog was gone! I spent the next forty-five minutes looking for her. She was nowhere to be found.

The helicopter had come to rest in the small stream bed that ran through the valley. The skids were knocked off and the clam-shell that housed the engine was caved in from striking a large boulder that shut the engine off at the moment I shouted, "God I want to live!" It was easily a 50/50 chance that my head would have struck that boulder. I asked the instrument man to help me tilt the helicopter up so that Molly could look underneath it for Sadie Dog. Before we did, she asked me if I really wanted to know. I told her I have to know one way or another.

Sadie was not under the helicopter. I didn't know what else to do as far as looking for her, so I got the ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) out of the helicopter and decided to climb the mountain with it so the signal could get out better and rescue could find us.

A quarter of the way up the mountain I stopped to look around. About a quarter of a mile away from the crash site I spied a little black and white thing running as fast as she could back to the crash. Sadie had evidently been tossed out of the helicopter during its death spin and hit the ground running. I shouted, "Sadie! Hey Sadie!" She heard me and stopped to look in my direction. When she saw me a huge wiggle went through her whole body, then she cut a beeline for me. But, she only ran about twenty feet when she stopped again to make a double-take and see if it was really me. When she saw me the second time another huge wiggle went through her whole body and then she started running toward me again.

She didn't stop until she got to me. When she did she whimpered, "Uhmm, Uhmm, Uhmm." I said, "Yea baby that was bad". But I had tears of joy running down my check having been reunited with my dog. We climbed the mountain together and set the ELT down on top. Then we headed back down to the crash site. When we got within twenty feet of the helicopter she whimpered again. When a rescue helicopter showed up to pick us up, she didn't much want to get on board, but she did. She was still a great traveler and a great companion dog.

I sure miss you Sadie... we had quite the time!

SurvivalDog out...ciao

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Gauntlet

CAUTION: Some of the content of this tale may be disturbing for the squeamish.

The capture was easy and non eventful. Delta was not alone. Many of his fellow cohorts in crime were also with him. They didn’t consider themselves criminals, but they were finally captured after a long escape and evasion ordeal. Delta wasn’t his real name. It was simply the military phonetic alphabet designation for the initial of his first name. It was unknown what the future now held. No one had ever revealed any details about what was in store for those who were captured. The captors seemed pleasant enough though. Perhaps things would not be too bad.

The small caravan of military jeeps transporting the prisoners approached a fenced compound. The fence was every bit of eight feet tall topped with high security concertina wire. Big men in combat fatigues stood along the outside of the compound’s front fence watching the approach of the military jeeps. As the jeeps slowed the military men rapidly approached the jeeps without waiting for them to completely stop. Methodically they pulled prisoners from the back of the jeeps and threw them to the ground.

Delta attempted to stand after hitting the ground. One of the goons that had previously pulled him from the back of the jeep quickly shoved him back to the dirt. Delta attempted to look around to survey what was going on with everyone. The goon obviously in charge of Delta gave him a firm kick followed with a stern command, “Put your head down PIG. You don’t deserve to look around. Keep your head down and don’t look around!” Delta acquiesced. He didn’t know what else to do. His mental state was still intact even though nothing that had occurred had been expected. So far the treatment did not seem too extreme. The goons herded the men now crawling on their hands and knees toward the front gate of the compound. Repeated commands to get your head down PIG! Stay down PIG! You don’t deserve to walk or look around. You are the scum of the earth! Continued to ring out.

As the men got close to the front gate they were herded close up against each other uncomfortably invading each others personal space. Near the gate there was a wall of empty and dirty sandbags hanging on hooks. The prisoners were ordered to disrobe down to their briefs and place all of their possessions including their clothes into a dirty sandbag. After disrobing the men were forced up tight against each other still on their hands and knees in the line to enter the front gate. Delta could feel himself enter a condition of slight mental shock as he was forced to uncomfortably violate the personal space of the man in front of him and likewise had his personal space violated from behind. He had thought they would have been treated more humanly. After all his captors were his fellow citizens. It wasn’t like he was in a foreign land. The shock from his mental distress caused by the abuse he and his compatriots experienced was real though. He couldn’t imagine how much worse it could get.

Once inside the compound with the front gate now securely closed the men were allowed to stand and increase their distance from one another. The night was cold though and all of them were uncomfortably clothed only in their briefs. They were now allowed to stand and be processed. One of the prisoners made a smart remark. Immediately all of them were ordered to drop and knock out a hundred pushups. Many in macho form knocked out the pushups effortlessly and quickly. Some struggled. The order for pushups continued with each infraction. Slowly men dropped the macho display and soon all struggled with apparent effort except for one man who continued his prideful macho display of strength longer than anyone. It was apparent he was not going to allow himself to be easily broken. Delta wasn’t that man. He was has healthy and stout as any of them, but he quickly realized early on that it was a fruitless gesture. So, he conserved his strength acting as if it took extreme effort to accomplish any pushups. These PIGS that called him a PIG did not deserve his best efforts.

Everyone was assigned various work details consisting of some kind of menial labor within the compound. These tasks too were met with apparent incompetent effort where the men performed only to the extent required to keep attention from being focused on them. Slowly individual men were separated out and directed to one of two different buildings.

In one building Delta was greeted by a kind man that offered him a cigarette. There was an assortment of magazines on a nearby table Delta recognized as totally opposed to his worldview. So, was this to be a reeducation camp? The man told Delta that if he agreed to cooperate and join their side things would go easier on him. Delta engaged the man in conversation slowing picking out different magazines and asking questions about what it meant to be on their side. Delta was given a form to sign. Slowing he read the form quietly enjoying his escape from the cold night air and menial labor duties inside the comfortable interior of the soft cell building. The form required a confession stating he was guilty of being an enemy of the state. Delta drug his feet as long as he could and finally coldly looked the man in the eyes when he knew he could stretch his brief reprieve from the chilly night air no longer stating, “This isn’t me! I’m not signing anything and I don’t have anything to tell you.”

The man simply smiled back at Delta saying, “have it your way”. There was something nefarious about the smirk the man then gave Delta as he waved his hand in a manner that was obviously a signal which was soon followed by two of the goons from the front gate appearing from the shadows to escort Delta to the other building.

The other building was stark, cold, and dark compared to the building with the apparent kind man and magazines. Once inside the new building one of the goons opened the lid to a small wooden box barely large enough to contain a man all scrunched up on hands and knees. The goons then shoved Delta into the box and closed the lid. The bottom was sand and small gravel grit. A few unknown bugs could be felt crawling around. Delta made himself as comfortable as possible and attempted to take a nap. There was nothing he could do about the bugs or grit, so he decided to make the best of his current situation. Delta was grateful that neither bugs nor claustrophobia were things that disturbed him, otherwise the box could have been a small living hell.

Delta was only allowed to remain in the box for approximately twenty minutes before the lid opened and one of the goons interrupting his nap said, “Okay scum bag, time for more fun and games! Come on out of there.” Delta was then forced to sit in some type of chair that could recline back and had security straps on the arms. The goons strapped him in place and then wrapped his head in a large towel. Then the goons lit some type of pipe and began blowing smoke all up into the towel. If it was pot Delta could have easily gotten high, but it was only some nasty brand of tobacco fortunately not near as bad as Picayune Cigarettes native to his south Louisiana home. Delta easily handled the barrage of smoke.

Next two large goons took up positions on either side of Delta with one standing behind him at his head. A couple of others formed a line to a set of five gallon buckets lined up along one of the walls of the shack. The goons adjusted the chair back so that Delta was now in a reclined position. Then one of the goons took the towel and placed it into one of the nearby buckets full of water fully saturating the towel. The towel was then stretched taunt over Delta’s face as one of the five gallon buckets full of water was handed to the man behind Delta. A slow steady stream of water was then poured onto the towel covering Delta’s mouth and nose.

Once long ago when Delta was young he had been forcefully held underwater while swimming with an older man. Delta soon began to kick and struggle as he thought the older man would not bring him to the surface for air. The man held him down longer causing Delta to experience the very real panic that comes from the fear of drowning. Eventually the man did allow Delta to come up grasping for the precious air that allows all of us to experience the gift of life.

He was not held underwater now, but it felt exactly the same as a steady stream of water was kept pouring over the towel stretched taunt against his face. Delta held his breath unable to breath and trying not to inhale any water, but the goons had more than enough buckets full of water replacing an empty one with a full one when necessary to easily outlast him. Would he panic or simply pass out from the lack of oxygen? Not very many can simply pass out. The fear of drowning is too great of a threat to take calmly. As Delta’s oxygen levels depleted and his carbon dioxide levels stimulating his desire to breath built up, Delta could feel the urge to panic rise uncontrollably. He fought it hopelessly and soon gave in to full fledged panic kicking, fighting, and struggling against the restraints and the goons holding him in place. They continued the steady stream over the taunt towel heightening Delta’s panic. They wanted him fully ready to cooperate with them when they finally would decide to turn off the water. Death actually comes easy when one drowns. It is the ungodly panic that precedes it that is so awful. The men were quite experienced and knew just how far they could push it getting maximum results. Delta didn’t know what this technique was called other than drowning someone out of the water, but the perpetrators were complete experts at what was known as water boarding someone to extract information. It was debatable as to whether or not it was really torture. If it was torture, it was very humane in that the subject suffered no real physical harm other than the mental anguish of panic that involves the sensation of being drowned. Once the water flow stopped and the towel was removed whether the victim was passed out or still struggling, life giving oxygen would quickly return and all would be well in the world except for the mental anguish of having been nearly drowned. There would be no lasting physical harm and the mental anguish would soon vanish also leaving no lasting effects. If the person didn’t talk, the process would be repeated. Most would say anything to keep that from happening again. Delta was no exception.

“Wha, what do you want to know? What do you want to know?” Delta shouted as he grasped for air. The goons laughed.

“It is not what we want to know, but what we want you to know.” one of the meanest looking goons whispered to Delta.

“What’s that?” Delta asked with eyes wide in fright.

“Everyone breaks. It is just a matter of how long before it happens and how.” The man smiled. “You’re free to go and join your buddies now”.

The reality of what was going on and where Delta really was soon returned. It wasn’t a bad dream or a real drowning situation. The night was one of the longest he could remember ever enduring, but the sun eventually rose ushering in a new day. When the sun did rise, so was the American flag raised over the compound followed with the star spangled banner playing over the compound’s loudspeakers.

The mock POW camp was the final phase of Army Flight School just prior to the award of Army Aviator Wings followed by the commissioning of the Warrant Officer Candidates into full fledged Warrant Officers fully ready for duty as combat helicopter pilots who could be shot down, easily captured if they survived and become real prisoners held captive by a truly hostile force. Every one of them would now have some idea of what they might face should that dreaded event ever become a reality. One thing was known for sure though, any future captivity was unlikely to be near as humane as what they had all just experienced. Regardless the future looked bright. Not just anyone could experience the sheer freedom and thrill of helicopter flight not just as a passenger, but as the one who commanded the controls invoking the aircraft to carry out their every desire.

Gauntlet Survivors ~ Brand new Army Aviators!
Army Flight School Grads


Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Private Tall Tales

I still have plenty of Tall Tales to write, but some of them I am not so comfortable sharing with the public at large.
So, I've just opened "My Private Tall Tales" which is restricted to those I personally invite.

If you know me and have not received an invite, feel free to send me an email.

Here is the link for easy access for those invited: My Private Tall Tales

You will be required to sign in to gain access to these Private Tall Tales... Sorry. It should all be Kosher on Blogger.

Hopefully these will be as entertaining and enjoyable as the ones I have already posted.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Cause of Strife

It seems like yesterday, but it was years ago during the 1990's that we lived in a house trailer that had defective plumbing. The pipes under the trailer were easily prone to spring leaks. I was capable of fixing the leaks, but needless to say it was almost always a hassle to climb underneath and tackle the task.

Once we had a leak that coincided with my work schedule preventing me from getting to its repair as quickly as I would have liked. This was a leak we could live with until I managed to get a round to it. However, my wife trying to be helpful contacted a neighbor without telling me and arranged for him to repair my leak. When I arrived home from work she told me what she had done.

This flew all over me. I am not opposed to accepting help when I really need it, but if it is something that I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself; I feel like I am abusing my friendship if I impose on someone else to take care of it out of charity without pay. That is exactly what my wife arranged. My friend and neighbor had not done the repair yet, but he was scheduled. This put me into a sour mood.

My wife likes for me to put on a facade as if all is okay when it is not. My personality rarely if ever allows me to do that. I needed to rest for my next shift that required a fresh pilot instead of tackling the leak before I was ready which would most likely be during my days off. So, I headed to our bedroom to chill out alone. I laid on my bed and prayed and stewed trying to figure out how I could resolve this situation my wife presumptuously caused thinking she was helping me by imposing on my neighbor. I also was interested in why this little seemingly innocent incident had placed me into such a sour mood.

My wife looked at me in disgust and told me I should get over it, but I was covered in a foul mood that I could not shake.

Finally I picked up my Bible and opened it to read hoping I could find some relief. It opened to Proverbs chapter 13 where my eyes were drawn to verse 10 and I read: "Through presumption comes nothing but strife, But with those who receive counsel is wisdom." Wow! right before my eyes God clearly showed me the dynamics behind the sour mood I had found myself in.

My dictionary defines strife as a noun whose meaning is: angry or bitter disagreement over fundamental issues; conflict.

My sour mood definitely involved strife over what my wife had done though she was only innocently attempting to be helpful.

My dictionary also defines presumption as a noun. It has several more definitions than strife among one is: "• an idea that is taken to be true, and often used as the basis for other ideas, although it is not known for certain"

My wife recognized that our plumbing needed fixing although it was minor in this case since the leak had not completely shutdown our ability to use the system. She also recognized that I was busy and couldn't get to the problem until my off shift. This situation also gave her the idea that getting someone else to fix the problem would be beneficial and helpful to me. Of course she presumed this since it was not known for certain since she had not run it by me prior to setting the steps of acquiring help from someone else in place.

Interestingly my dictionary also defines presumption as: "2 behavior perceived as arrogant, disrespectful, and transgressing the limits of what is permitted or appropriate". As mentioned above I am not opposed to receiving help when it is truly necessary, but I was somewhat perturbed at imposing upon a neighbor to do something I was fully capable of doing myself. If only my wife had counseled with me prior to setting her plan in motion my sense of umbrage would not have been piqued.

Now that proverbs 13:10 revealed to me what had happened helping me to understand my dour feelings, a much better mood came upon me and I was able to call my neighbor and tell him though I appreciated his willingness to help this was a job that I could easily do myself once I got around to it. I was also able to share with my wife the dynamics behind what had confronted us and what I clearly now saw was behind my sour mood.

God is so amazing!

BOOM! I shared this little tale most recently at a small bible study I attend. Then we went looking for the particular scripture involved. It could not be found. In Promise Keepers & a lesson learned we found what a difference a translation may make. Though I favor the NASB, I sometimes read different translations just to see if God might have something new to show me. I personally believe if your heart is sincere God will use whatever translation is available to you, though I have found both strengths and weaknesses in different translations. It would be nice to know Greek and Hebrew, but I don't.

I am currently reading the "New Living Translation" which renders Proverbs 13:10 as "Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise." Not quite the dynamics of what I felt I had experienced. When I got home I checked my current NASB "Through insolence comes nothing but strife, But wisdom is with those who receive counsel." Hmmm? Again not quite what I remember. A look at the definition of insolence lead to impertinence which had the word meddlesome and presumptuous. Getting close, but it didn't relay it quite like I remember. Next I pulled out my New King James version where I found: "By pride comes nothing but strife, But with the well-advised is wisdom." Okay, I give up! But wait; not so easy...

When someone tells me of something they have read in the bible and my mind tells me I have never seen that; I ask them to personally show me. I may consider them a very reliable source, but from experience I know I may end up looking for something for ever that is not there. Have you ever looked for "Spare the rod and spoil the child"? Or looked for where Paul fell off a horse on his journey to Damascus? If you find any of those, please send me a message with scripture and verse and also what translation so I can see for myself. When I see it in print for myself, my brain registers yep, there it is! It really does exist, and it seems to file this knowledge away with confidence for what has been stated.

Did my memory fail me? I underline verses that stand out to me as I read. I call this getting your bible trained where you can easily find a verse in question so you can show someone else when needed. I also tend to give away my trained bibles when I encounter someone in need of a book. My very first bible was given to a couple of hitchhikers I had given a ride to long ago. I think I gave the one with the scripture in question to a man that had accosted me on the street who I got to share the Lord with. And, if I find I'm constantly reading stuff all underlined I get a feeling I'm not finding anything new, so I often then purchase myself a new book and begin underlining and training the new book all over again. It keeps my reading fresh. If you read the Lockman Foundations principals of translation found in the front of a NASB I believe you will find they use good logic as I have found. However, they have made some improvements in more current editions. Some I agree with and some I don't.

I recently purchased a reference NASB that is retro to one I had given away in the past. I pulled it out to look for the mystery verse. There it was just as I had originally read it: "Through presumption comes nothing but strife, But with those who receive counsel is wisdom." How amazing is that! God had provided me with the exact translation I needed when I needed it to show me what I was dealing with and provided me with the understanding I might not have received if I had any other translation available at the time.

"Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows."
Luke 12:7

A personal relationship with Jesus has revealed to me way more than once His power and the reality of His existence! Thank You Lord!


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Promise Keepers & a lesson learned

It has been a little while since I've written a tall tale. I awoke about an hour skyscrapers ago to the sound of my wife suctioning my handicapped son's trach. I now find sleep eluding me. I keep the radio on Music Thru The Night so that there is something worthwhile to listen to should I awake between midnight and 5am. Mike Kellogg told the brief tale of Jackie Robinson the first black Major League Baseball player. Mike said Jackie was not given a warm reception by the white fans, and during one of the games he committed an error that drew the ire of the fans. Jackie stood near second base listening to the booing of the fans and contemplated quitting the major leagues when the shortstop approached him and placed his arm around Jackie's shoulders and faced the booing fans with him. The booing quit, but most notable was that Mike said Jackie considered quitting the major leagues until his fellow player offered his support against the booing fans. That story caused me to think of my "Promise Keepers" experience as well as some pretty top notch black men I have known in my life most notably a man I know only as Hatchet who is as honorable and good as any man I have known regardless of race. Hatchet is now deceased, but it has been my great privilege to have known him in this life and to have been introduced to horse back riding by him. He is one that you would want on your side and on your team. It is my great hope that I will see him again.

As I thought about the story Mike Kellogg told about Jackie on second base and the shortstop it stirred the memory of my Promise Keepers experience. I probably would have preferred to simply return to sleep, but sleep did not want to seem to easily return and when the creative juices for writing a Tall Tale strike they often do not return with the same fervor if at all when they are set aside for later, so I take the time to spin this Tall Tale now.

Promise Keepers first appeared on my radar through a Christian radio station in the very early 1990's. My wife and I both had an interest in my attending one of their events. I was working an EMS job on the old "Kelly Shift" cycle back then. The Kelly Shift consisted of a 9 day cycle consisting of 3 twenty four hour shifts during the first 5 days followed by 4 days off. The closest event was scheduled for Dallas Texas, but did not coincide with a date that matched my four days off. My wife and I were disappointed and hoped another one in a suitable location that matched my off days would eventually be scheduled.

Then an act of God occurred that caused the current Dallas event to be rescheduled to a time that perfectly matched my four days off. A hugh thunderstorm with strong winds blew down the stage for the first scheduled Dallas event causing it to be rescheduled inside a sports arena. To my knowledge no one was hurt and they simply suffered the inconvenience of having to reschedule to a time and date that was very convenient for me. I quickly bought two tickets. One for me and another for a black preacher I knew from South Louisiana.

My preacher friend was not able to attend, so I headed to Dallas alone with both tickets. I would spend two nights with a Christian couple that my wife made a missionary trip to China with before I knew her. I invited the man to attend with me offering him my spare ticket, which he declined. So, with excitement and anticipation I headed to the event unaccompanied the following morning.

While en route and listening to a local Dallas station they talked about the event and brought up the subject of parking along with a required parking fee. Uh oh! I heard warning bells go off in my head. Back in those days I never traveled with any cash carrying only a checkbook and a credit card. The radio didn't clearly alert listeners that only cash would be taken to pay the parking fee, but that eventuality felt strongly implied. I was optimistic though. I reasoned at best I could get them to take one of my checks and at worst I could quickly panhandle my second now unused and unneeded ticket.

When I arrived I patently waited my turn in the parking line for what was a huge mass of traffic. When my turn to pay came I explained my situation to the attendant accepting parking fees. He wasn't understanding or helpful at all with my cashless dilemma. He simply said, "You can probably go down town and find a place to cash your check and then come back." I simply said, "Okay" as I pulled out of my place in line.

I was somewhat offended yet still optimistic as I headed into downtown Dallas to attempt to cash an out of town check. After several failed attempts at different establishments my optimism faded and my sense of being offended greatly increased. I came within a hair's breadth of simply heading home and telling myself that all those people care about is money anyhow. Then I spied some tall skyscrapers about a mile's walking distance to the event. I set my face like flint and told myself that I would find an available empty and free parking spot near the skyscrapers since it was the weekend, and then I would make the mile long hike back to the Promise Keepers event and they would have to put up with my now disgruntled spirit.

I found my parking spot and my mood was quite sour as I began my long walk from my parking spot. As I got very close to the event I entered some kind of college campus just across the road from where I initially attempted to pay and park. On the college campus there were all kinds of open and shaded free parking spots within an easy walking distance if only a person could have known about them. I saw several college students sitting around watching the goings on. Then there was what appeared to be a lone student tossing a Frisbee for his dog in an open field I was crossing.

As I entered the Frisbee field with my face still set like flint and my spirit covered with the sour mood of my parking experience offense, the man looked up at me and asked, "Are you going over to that promise keepers event?"

I said in what I am sure was not a too pleasant tone, "yeah!"

He said kindly, "Well, I'll walk over there with you. If that's alright?"

His choosing to walk over there with me knocked all the crud that was covering me, from being offended by the promise keepers parking debacle to garner a little extra money, right off of me. I can only imagine what I experienced at that moment was similar to what Jackie Robinson felt years ago when the shortstop put his arm around him in solidarity thus changing Jackie's mind from quitting the major leagues. My sour spirit instantly changed to a more pleasant one now that I had someone to hang with who showed himself friendly.

I thoroughly enjoyed my two days at the Dallas Promise Keepers event. I rendezvoused with my new found friend the next day. I got to meet several of his other friends and we all got to share and witness to other men attending. Tony Evans even made an unscheduled brief appearance and almost took the roof off of the place. I wouldn't learn the significance of my being offended by their parking situation until I arrived home after my Promise Keepers trip was completed.

When I arrived home I gathered all my children together for a small bible reading in my bedroom. I opened my bible to Matthew chapter 24 and began reading. I was reading from the New King James version. The Bible the man gave me in this previous Tall Tale was a NASB. Historically I have favored the NASB translation, although I occasionally like to read a different translation. The very first time I ever opened my original NASB as a new bible reader it was to Matthew Chapter 24, so this chapter carries great meaning to me since I felt Jesus was personally talking to me about the things that would come upon the world. Every time I read verse 10 “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another." I have always told myself, "That's not me. I'm not interested in falling away and betraying anyone. I want to be one who endures to the end."

This day while reading from the NKJ version to my children I reached verse 10 in the different translation which said, "And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another." God hit me right between the eyes! "then shall many be offended" "shall hate one another". Wow! The memory of how the Promise Keepers parking fee offended me and the hatred I had felt came full circle. I heard God's still quiet voice say to me, "And look how easy it happened to you David!"

It was a great lesson for me. Little things that should be insignificant can often easily end up offending us stirring up strong emotions. I had personally experienced it at Promise Keepers. It can happen between spouses, friends, work acquaintances, and strangers. I am much more wary of this trick of the devil since my Promise Keepers experience and the NKJ translation. I hope this Tall Tale can also make you wary of this clever tactic of the enemy and help you also be one who endures to the end able to look with compassion on those who may unknowingly give offense.

The man that befriended me on the Frisbee field wasn't aware of what had just happened to me regarding parking, but God was and I have no doubt that He placed the man with the frisbee and dog there for me for such a time as this. Likewise I believe God had the shortstop there for Jackie Robinson when he needed him most. Thank you Mr. Kellogg for that story. Music thru the Night is almost over now, and I've added another Tall Tale to my collection that will hopefully be of benefit to some of you. I have company arriving later today, so hopefully now I can catch a little more sleep and this visit will also be in God's hand.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand." John 10:27,28


Friday, August 20, 2010

Take on minimal fuel

One of the things I was told as a brand new EMS pilot was to take on the minimal amount of fuel necessary to get back to base where the fuel is cheaper.

Any of you out there who are successful business people know the importance of saving a buck here and there if you can.

Night flight patient delivery to the big city of Memphis followed by refueling at Memphis International Airport. Minimal fuel, minimal fuel, minimal fuel... Memphis to Cape Girardeau. Okay, I made my choice and decided what I needed.

Many pilots will tell you that the only time you have too much fuel onboard is when your aircraft is on fire.

Well I took on minimal fuel, climbed to altitude where you get better fuel consumption and hopefully favorable winds.

Only head winds on this trip back. God, we seemed like we were moving slow. The fuel gage needle wasn't though. Do I have enough to make it back? One thing in aviation and stacking the deck in your favor besides always taking on extra fuel is to have contingency plans.

Well, there I was over the top of Blytheville Municipal Airport at a point of decision. Do I chance it and see if I can make it with truly minimal fuel or land and get some more gas?

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The conservative side of me had me land. At midnight the airport was closed. I called the sheriff who got the airport manager out of bed for us. No way was I going to tell the man to give me a couple of gallons. I said, "Top it off!"

Always better to be safe than sorry. And, who knows when I might need the man to get up out of bed again for just a little bit of fuel.

After that experience I always took on a little more than just the minimal amount of fuel necessary to make it back.

If the powers that be didn't like that, they could dang sure come and fly that bird their own self.

Ciao! and, if you fly: FLY SAFE!