Photo: The Sun/UK
“…The rain may never fall till after sundown.
By eight, the morning fog must disappear.
In short, there’s simply not
a more congenial spot
for happily-ever-aftering than here
in Camelot.” – (1959/1960) Camelot (Musical score theme song.) Composers: Lyrics, Alan Jay Lerner Music, Frederick Loewe
I’ve never been a big basketball fan, unless the Dallas Mavericks are in the playoffs (Still waiting). However, I am a fan of humanity.
Tragic, so very tragic, the recent taking of 9 lives aboard Kobe Bryant’s leased helicopter. NBA star, Kobe Bryant and his 13 year old daughter, Gianna were among the diseased. It’s not just NBA fans who are mourning the sudden loss, but literally multitudes around the globe are feeling the sting of this horrific event.
You might have been spending time in a cave somewhere if you’ve not heard the news of this helicopter crash from Sunday morning, January 26th. In the Los Angeles area, after an early morning church service, Kobe and his daughter boarded the helicopter with 7 other friends, including their well-experienced pilot. They were planning to attend a youth basketball tournament scheduled for later in the day in Thousand Oaks, California. Unfortunately, a few minutes after takeoff, the pilot made a maneuver to rise above the morning fog for clearer vision. He had asked permission from the control tower to fly under “special visual flight rules”, literally flying by vision only. After getting approval, air traffic officials say that the craft reached 2,300 feet then took a fast dive at 2,000 feet per minute, crashing head-first into the side of a steep mountainside. Officials report they were 20-30 feet from clearing the mountain. Truly heartbreaking.
As I write this, the investigation is ongoing. There’s lots to be learned. Two facts are certain, there was a thick morning fog which couldn’t be negotiated for lower altitude flights, and no terrain awareness warning system on board to notify the pilot of the mountain in his flight-path. Experts say the helicopter basically disintegrated on impact. Death for all on board was instant.
The loss is simply tremendous. Mourning now are scores of family members from each of the 9 victims from all over the map. Then there are the friends of each of the 9 deceased passengers from every corner of the globe. Of course, there are acquaintances of each of the lost ones. Naturally, there are those who mourn from the ranks of basketball fans, teammates, coaches, millions of fans who never met Kobe, or the others on board. Each life always touches a multitude of other lives. A falling rock in a still pond makes wide ripples which travel to its various shorelines. I guess you could call it, the George Bailey Effect.
There’s always one question finding its way first when tragic news hits in such a disastrous, unexpected exit. What killed Kobe Bryant and his daughter? Some will say, the pilot. Some will point out the helicopter with no warning system. Others might say the control tower staff. Those in the valley below, watching the smoke rise from the crash site, might announce the mountain destroyed their lives. I’m afraid the debate will be long lasting.
God bless the loved ones left behind. May they find true peace and comfort from the Name Above All Names.
A couple of days before the crash, here in the Dallas area, we experienced soupy conditions as well. This is what downtown Dallas looked like from a commercial flight coming in for a landing.
Photo: Ross Hardin, via Dallas Morning News
Have you ever driven in such a fog? Have you ever taken a walk, or a jog on a trail in dense fog? Imagine being in the air with 50 feet of visibility. It’s highly disorienting. You might find yourself without your barings of left/right, up/down. This may have very well been the enemy of the pilot, the killer of the flight.
Allow me to say bluntly, there have been times when my foggy conditions had nothing to do with humidity, or the weather in general.
Too many times in my life of twists and turns, I invited fog to encroach on my path. My walk with God became hazy, disorienting, and unable to see His flight-path for my life. Have you ever been there? A shinny object over there brought in the haze of a spiritual backslide down a steep slope I never thought I would ever experience. Rounding the corner on my designated path… look…a beautiful rabbit to chase. So, in my distraction, I put on my Alice In Wonderland shoes and off I went into a misty cloud of darkness where my vision, my focus was lost. Over the hill, you spy a gorge below, filled with a blur of a whipped cream-like fog-bank. Immediately I ponder what it would be like to climb down into such a chasm to get up close and personal inside the misty haze. Once there, you realize it’s not the chosen path where safety lies waiting. The climb back up to the clear view is so far away. Instead, you can’t see above, around, or through the muck. You can flash your lights on bright, but it only bounces back by the wall of fog. No need to use your shadow as a compass, for the fog offers no shadows.
Fog is not our friend. Fog lacks grace. Fog lacks love. Fog serves up misdirection. It cares not who you are, or how many halls of fame you have been inducted. One thing fog does possess…a weakness.
Ask any ship captain. The foghorn is imperative when on the sea. The tiny partials of H2O, making up the low-hanging, ground-loving cloud, is perfect for carrying audio. Sound waves board these tiny morsels of water within mist as if they were minuscule microphones which transmit quickly to the nearest ear. The foghorn is set at a very low frequency where the vibration skims off the surface of the water like a thin stone gliding on the exterior of the deep. The low frequency pierces the dark, murky mist. It bellows out, “I’M HERE! ALTHOUGH YOU CAN’T SEE ME, I’M AFLOAT HERE IN THIS CLOUD!” Soon, a lighthouse ashore, beams its blinding lamp toward the sound of the foghorn, guiding the ship to port.
Photo: My wife’s, Michelle Niles-Brown very first painting.
My flight-path in life has met with mountainsides a few times. When I segue into the fog of this world, I will be, and have been, disoriented, adrift from my control tower, unable to hear its wise words. Count on it happening when you seek only “special visuals” from your own judgement.
No matter how thick the cloud bank, no matter how wide the fog may be, no matter if the visibility is only 5 feet, when I hear the cutting foghorn of my Creator, I not only sense my built-in warning system, my flight-path is rediscovered. The choice is mine to make the correction on faith, and not by sight.
Learning from life’s tragedies can first be navigated by fuel for the race.
“My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow Me. And I am giving them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them from my hand.” – Jesus – John 10:27-28 (Aramaic Bible Into Plain English)