A Lesson from Flying

We had been up in the high desert for two and a half weeks, flying constantly. We all felt we'd had enough, but were still doing our best to learn the tricky precision maneuver, and we had only three more days of practice before the final all-Navy competition. The pressure seemed to be increasing on the pilots as well as on the maintenance crews, who were working all day and night to keep the complicated jets flying.

The first few days most of us had been wildly off the target. Then, as the days passed, the other pilots got better and better. But I didn't. It got so bad with me that when I would radio from my plane that I was coming in, the ground crew measuring our accuracy would hide in the bunkers. They usually said my maneuver was so far off they couldn't measure it.

At first we all laughed about it. But as the days passed with no improvement, the jokes gave way to a quiet concern. The Operations Officer explained and reexplained it all, but it just didn't sink in. Flight training so far had been easy, which made my failure now all the more frustrating. I started muttering to myself, "How can anybody be so stupid? What an uncoordinated jerk I must be!"

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Prayer in Church Heals the World
May 23, 1977

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