One evening as I was taxiing my plane full of passengers to the runway, I had a feeling that something was wrong with the aircraft steering system. To confirm my spiritual impression, I pulled off the taxiway and did a few 360-degree turns. Nothing seemed out of order.
I wondered, “Should I take off and get the passengers to their destination on time, or should I return to the gate?” I knew returning would create a long delay. Taxiway runs are one way; I would have to wait for ground control to create a space for me to taxi against the traffic flow. Then we would have to wait for the maintenance crew to check out the plane. The delays could cause problems for the airline and for the passengers who had people to meet and connections to make. I also wondered how the maintenance department would react to my report that the plane had a problem when I had nothing to go on except a strong feeling.
As captain of the aircraft, I was responsible for our safety, so I decided to follow my impression and return.
When we arrived at the gate, I told the mechanic that I felt something was wrong with the plane but that I didn’t know what the trouble was. He did not believe there was a problem.
“It was probably just the wet taxiway,” he said. “You may have been slipping on the asphalt.” He agreed, nevertheless, to look at the steering gear on the nose wheel. After checking it, he asked me to off-load the passengers so he could take the plane for a test ride.
When he returned 30 minutes later, he was very concerned. During the test ride, he had heard an intermittent grinding sound. When he applied the brakes as he was turning around to return to the gate, he lost control of the plane and nearly ran off the taxiway.
A close inspection revealed that the brakes had undergone improper maintenance the previous evening. Had I landed the plane after our flight, the brakes would have failed, and I would have lost control of the plane.
I received another aircraft to pilot, and I safely delivered my passengers to their destination three hours late.
I am glad I listened to the whisperings of the Spirit. I know that the Spirit will direct us if we seek the Lord’s guidance and listen to the promptings that come.