The Only Way To Fly by James Merritt

THE ONLY WAY TO FLY
Dr. James Merritt
2 Timothy 3:15-17
8-1-99

INTRODUCTION

1. Whenever I think about the last day of JFK, two words will
always stick with me: "Graveyard spiral." From all indications it
was a graveyard spiral that took the life of John F. Kennedy, Jr.
The graveyard spiral is a series of ever-tightening turns that
corkscrew a plane toward earth. It is the leading danger when new
pilots leave clear weather for clouds or darkness.

2. An inexperienced pilot will lose his bearings and the plane will
begin to turn without his even knowing it. By the time the force of
gravity begins to warn the pilot the plane is falling, the instinct to
pull up only makes the spiral worse.

3. I was fascinated to learn that 83% of all fatal accidents happen
when new pilots fly in bad weather, lose their bearings and spiral to
the ground, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

4. There were three sets of initials that kept flying across the
television screen when this tragedy took place: JFK, VFR, and IFR.
VFR stands for Visual Flight Rules, and IFR stands for Instrument
Flight Rules. The difference between those two letters (V) and (I)
may very well have cost Kennedy his life.

5. All kinds of excuses have been given as to why Kennedy, his
wife, and sister-in-law were even in that plane to begin with. He left
too late, the sky was too dark, the plane was too new, the visibility
was too poor, the pilot was too inexperienced.

6. But the amazing thing is this: Any and all of those problems
would have been overcome if JFK had been flying IFR rather than
VFR. That is, if he could have read his instruments and relied on
his instruments, he probably would have landed that plane safely.
In fact, Bob Arnot, a reporter for NBC, made the same flight just
fifteen minutes before Kennedy and landed safely. Why? Because
he flew IFR.

7. We, too, are on a flight called l ...


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