Our First Flying Trip
By Clint Davis
Growing up, my father’s favorite hobby was flying. He was a Private Pilot and for many years he was also a ground school instructor. When I graduated from college, I got my pilots license and Karen & I took our first flying trip together in my dad’s two-seat Cessna 150. We had a family friend who was getting married in Nashville, Tennessee. I was excited. Karen’s parents (Dave & Bernice White) were driving down and would pick us up at the airport to take us to the wedding ceremony.
It was a crisp winter morning when we took off from the Greenwood Airport. With a cruise speed of about 100mph it would take us about 2 ½ hours to make Nashville. Our route would take us over the Hoosier National Forest, then just west of the restricted airspace of Fort Knox, KY, south to Bowling Green and on to Nashville.
We landed at Cornelia Fort Airport a small public airport just across the Cumberland River from the Grand Ole Opry. We touched down and taxied to the plane parking area and went inside the small terminal building where we anxiously waited for Dave and Bernice to pick us up. 5 minutes became 15, then 30, then 60 with no sign of our ride. This was before cell phones, so we had no idea where they were and could not contact them. We were in a city where we did not know anyone.
The start of the wedding was getting closer so we decided to call a cab. The cab arrived and off we went. About 10 minutes from the airport, we thought we saw Dave & Bernice’s light blue Buick Regal heading the other way. We hurriedly had the cab driver turn around so we could connect with them. 10 minutes later we were back at the airport and Dave and Bernice were nowhere to be found. We had just ran up a $25 cab fare (my only cash) to take us right back to where we had started.
As the taxi pulled away, the first major test of our marriage vows had already begun to take shape. We were extremely frustrated. My perfect flying trip had crash landed. It was not looking good and we were almost ready to get back in the plane and fly home, when an airplane mechanic took pity on us and told us he would take us to the wedding. He refused to take any money, even though I didn’t have any to give him. After clearing out some junk in his back seat to make space for Karen to sit, we were off. As we pulled up to the Vanderbilt wedding chapel, the last guests were coming out the door to head to the wedding reception. If we had arrived five minutes later, we would have missed everyone. We thanked our gracious transportation angel and jumped into a relative’s car to drive to the reception.
At the reception, we connected with Dave and Bernice and found out that they had gotten lost trying to find the airport and ran out of time to pick us up. We had some cake, greeted the bride and groom and then had to head back before it got too dark because the airport did not have any runway lights.
Twenty five years later, Karen and I look back on that experience and laugh. That airport in Nashville is gone and the couple we went to see get married are no longer together. (However Bernice is still my favorite mother-in-law.) At the time, the problems we were having that day seemed monumental. Since then, Karen surviving a car accident with a drunk driver, the sudden loss of my dad and the loss of other close friends are just a few experiences that have helped us to change our perspective on how we view life’s daily challenges.
I am reminded of the words from a poem:
God has not promised skies always blue with flower strewn pathways all our lives through.
God has not promised sun with rain, joy without sorrow and peace without pain.
But God has promised strength for the day, rest for the labor, light for the way, grace for the trials, strength from above, unfailing sympathy and undying love.
Our prayer to God is one of thanks for getting us through those tough days and to provide us strength for those that are yet to come.
Psalm 46:1 – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.