Too Fast!

By Heidi Holfeltz Parker

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At this rate the plane would crash. But the pilot felt prompted to hold his speed.

It was a beautiful, clear day, and 28-year-old Aircraft Commander Brent Young was doing what he loved best: flying a C-141 for the United States Air Force. He and his crew, including his copilot, a flight engineer, and two load masters, were on a routine run from North Dakota to Utah.

The flight was uneventful until Commander Young began his approach to Hill Air Force Base. Then, out of nowhere, the thought came to him, “Hold 20 knots above approach speed.”

“Why would I do that?” he wondered. “It goes against everything I know about flying.”

As the plane sped toward its destination, he agonized over the decision he must make in the next 60 seconds. “If I drop 20 knots now,” he reasoned, “the plane will be at just the right speed for the approach. I can’t hold 20 knots. I’ll overshoot the runway.”

But the impression persisted. “Hold 20 knots above approach speed.”

Was the Spirit trying to guide him? He remembered the day, years earlier, when he flew out of Singapore. It was very hazy. He was just 1,000 feet above the runway when an Australian fighter plane almost collided with him. He saw the look of terror on the other pilot’s face. And that wasn’t the only time he’d felt that someone was watching over him, protecting him.

“What are you doing?” his copilot suddenly blurted out. “You’re going too fast!”

“We need to hold 20 knots above approach speed. I can’t explain it,” Commander Young replied.

The plane hurled toward the runway. Beads of sweat rolled down his face. His heart beat wildly, and his hands clenched the steering column. “Will we overshoot the runway? Will we survive?” he thought.

At that moment, with the plane just 250 feet above the ground, the speed suddenly dropped 20 knots. Commander Young stared at the gauge in disbelief. It had dropped to 145 knots. What had happened?

Within seconds the plane touched down, and Commander Young completed the landing.

The flight was over, but he couldn’t leave the cockpit yet. He sat in stunned silence, trying to make sense of what had just happened. But he could find no logical explanation. Without the extra air speed, he and his crew probably wouldn’t be alive. If he hadn’t held 20 knots above the approach speed, the plane would have dropped to 125 knots—stall speed. He wouldn’t have had time to fly out of the stall. Likely the plane would have crashed.

“Why’d you let me do it?” Commander Young quizzed his copilot.

“I’ve flown with LDS pilots before,” he replied. “I know they are guided by a force I don’t understand.”

Commander Young uttered a silent prayer. “Thank you, Heavenly Father. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Illustrated by Steve Kropp