Pre-Flight Check

“Give careful thought to your ways” Haggai 1:7

In 1982 a number of little things that were not attended to resulted in Air Florida flight 90 ending in a catastrophe. It was the 13th of January at National Airport, Washington, D.C. Swirling clouds had deposited a thick blanket of snow over the southern states of the USA. The Air Florida Boeing 737 twin-engine jet had taken on 71 passengers, three of them carrying babies, and had been delayed for an hour and forty-five minutes because snowplows were clearing the runway of snow. Airport workers de-iced the wings with glycol fluid and the plane taxied out for take-off from runway 36.

As the pilots sent their jet down the slushy runway and still falling snow they decided to lift the nose wheel earlier than usual in order to help the take-off. Inside thirty seconds of being airborne they knew that something was desperately wrong due to the shuddering and shaking of the plane. Just over a kilometer away from the airport on 14th Street Bridge, crossing over the Potomac River, drivers trapped in a traffic jam heard the plummeting jet before they saw it.

The plane hit the bridge with a massive bang. It ripped the tops off five cars and dragged others into the river with it. Bodies were left lying all over the bridge as some of the vehicles started burning.

A second later the plane hit the iced-over river like a rock smashing through a windscreen. It broke into three sections on impact. The nose plunged under and everyone in this part of the plane was killed instantly. The main fuselage flopped, settled long enough for bystanders to see the people strapped inside, and then slowly sank. Miraculously, the tail floated for 20 minutes and most of the survivors came from this part of the plane.

Even more people could have been saved if rescue workers could have got to them. People froze or drowned less than 15 meters from the shore due to the icy waters paralyzing muscles and bringing on fatal hypothermia within 10 minutes. Seventy-eight people died.

When aviation experts tried to ascertain the cause of the accident, they concluded that there was nothing big that was responsible for the crash. A series of little things caused the disaster. Ice on the wings may have collected despite the de-icing procedure. Ice in the engine may have distorted air intake and reduced power. The take-off speed may have been marginally slow and the nose may have been allowed to rise too soon.

Likewise, in the spiritual realm, failure to attend to little things can result in tragedy. That’s why it’s important to do a spiritual pre-flight check. Here are three essentials in order to avoid disaster:

“Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God . . .” Deuteronomy 8:11.

“Give careful thought to your ways” Haggai 1:7.

“But each one should be careful how he builds” 1 Corinthians 3:10.

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