On January 4, 2018, an Aviation Safety Network bulletin announced the tragic death of an Austrian jet airline pilot.
He did not die in the airplane takeoff or landing—the two most dangerous stages of a flight. There were no failures in the aircraft’s engine, hydraulic, wiring, computer, fuel, or air supply systems. The aircraft did not fly through any storms, nor did the pilot suffer a heart attack while in flight.
How did he die? He died while opening the door of the aircraft—not in flight, but while on the ground. The bulletin gave few details, except that—while opening the main door to the aircraft—the door struck the pilot in the head and killed him.
The aircraft was a Gulfstream 150 business jet, jointly manufactured by Israel and the USA. Its door opens downward, with the inside of the door serving as steps into the plane. One can only imagine that the pilot stood too close to the door as it was lowered to an open position and was struck. The accident occurred at the Kittilä Airport in Finland, when the plane was about to begin its journey to Ukraine. The jet never had the chance to get off the ground.
Understanding Our Frailty
It is not only sad for a pilot to be killed before preflight checks even begin; it is somewhat ignoble. The period before boarding the aircraft (before its engines fire up) is hardly the high-risk segment of a flight. As military members, all of us can recall someone who has survived a combat deployment, only to perish in a vehicle accident. Incidents such as this one, serve as a reminder of how fragile and frail our human lives are and how we still need to exercise caution in a high-tech world.
Every morning is also a caution for us to begin each day with God’s assistance. Each of us needs to begin our day by seeking God for His blessing, protection, guidance, and success in our endeavors. Even a moment of carelessness on the road can lead to a life-altering accident. May God put it in our hearts to seek Him from the day’s start!
Please don’t keep God waiting in line, behind every other activity of the day. Make God a priority and begin the day with Him. “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there” (Mark 1:35; Luke 3:21; 4:42; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28–29; 11:1; 22:39–46).
Dear Father in heaven, please teach me to lean upon You more and more—so that I will face life and its challenges in Your strength and power, rather than in my own. Train me, O God, to make prayer my first impulse, rather than my last resort. Amen.