President Uchtdorf Relates Flying to Gospel in Post and Video with Grandson

Contributed By Marian Spencer, LDS.org Church News

  • 30 September 2016

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s grandson listens as his grandfather explains the basics of flying an airplane at the Leonardo museum in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Photo courtesy of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s Facebook page.

Article Highlights

  • Flying has helped President Uchtdorf recognize God’s greatness and the grandness of the earth as His creation.
  • Just as President Uchtdorf was always drawn to the sky, so are we drawn to Lord.

"[God] is our ‘homing impulse.’ We feel drawn to Him because He is our Father and heaven is our home.” —President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency

“Last week I had the opportunity to show my grandson Eric an old C-131 airplane.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency is known and loved for his ability to take any spiritual subject and turn it into an airplane metaphor. As he himself once put it, “That’s all very fine and good, but what does it have to do with flying an airplane?” (“Of Things That Matter Most,” Oct. 2010 general conference).

But this recent Facebook video of his is no metaphor. President Uchtdorf took his grandson—and thousands of viewers—into the cockpit of a real airplane, a C-131 currently on display at the Leonardo museum in Salt Lake City.

In his Facebook post, President Uchtdorf stated, “I enjoyed discussing with him not only the mechanics of flying a plane but also how flying has helped me to recognize God’s greatness and the grandness of the earth as His creation.”

But there’s more to this story than the brief video provides. President Uchtdorf accompanied his post with an LDS.org blog entry titled “Our Homing Impulse,” which describes, in detail, his lifelong journey as a pilot.

He starts with his childhood experiences as a refugee, explaining that learning languages—especially English—“wasn’t [his] thing,” but that airplanes most definitely were. “I eventually learned that to become a pilot, I needed to speak English,” President Uchtdorf said. “Suddenly, the resisting condition of my mouth changed. I was able to learn the language. Why? Because of a strong motive!”

This motive carried President Uchtdorf throughout his career “as a fighter pilot and as an airplane captain.” He’d flown more than 15,000 hours by the time he was finished. Six of those years had been spent as a fighter pilot during the Cold War, and 30 years had been spent as an airline pilot, taking him all over the world.

Just as President Uchtdorf was always drawn to the sky, he says, so are we drawn to Lord. “He is our ‘homing impulse.’ We feel drawn to Him because He is our Father and heaven is our home.”

Portrait of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf in his airline pilot uniform.

As a young boy living in West Germany, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf used to go to the airport to watch airplanes take off.