Last night, a memory came to my mind of the time when our family lived in the Caribbean. The kids wanted to see Kingston, Jamaica from the air. I had not flown in a couple of years and wasn’t current so I could not rent an aircraft. I called up a local charter company and arranged an hour flight in a Cessna 182. The pilot and I sat in the front seats and my kids sat in the back and off we went.
After orbiting around the city for the better part of an hour it was time to head back to the airport. During the flight, the pilot and I talked and he found out I had been a flight instructor and charter pilot. To my surprise, he said, “Do you want to take it in?” I said, “Sure.” I had not landed an airplane in several years but knew I could land without a problem. It was my refined skills that were rusty. As we approached the airport, I wanted to execute a good landing to keep my piloting pride somewhat intact.
When I turned from base to final, the air was still and thick. My airspeed was right on the money. When we crossed the numbers, I eased back on the yoke and held the nose up as the airspeed bled off and the Cessna gently touched down. The landing was so smooth we did not actually feel the wheels touch the runway. It was that perfect. The charter pilot turned to me and said, “Now, that’s how to land a 182!” I tried to act like it happened all the time when in reality it was one of the best landings I had ever completed - even when current and flying frequently. God was kind to an out of currency pilot that day.
The key to a smooth landing is the result of learning how to hold an aircraft off the runway during the last moments of flight just before touchdown. This is where any excess airspeed is allowed to bleed off until the wing stops flying and the airplane touches down. It is the part of a flight where the smallest adjustments can bring the greatest results. Flying an aircraft thousands of feet up in the air is not a real challenge – touching down safely and smoothly is where your piloting skills are revealed.
When the memory of the flight in Jamaica came to mind, I knew it would apply to some of you reading these words. You are approaching the final stages of what God has assigned for you to complete. At this point, impatience will be your enemy. You need to bleed off some of the speed that has carried you this far. It has been a long flight of faith. Don’t rush these critical remaining moments. There is no need for a rough landing. Hold onto to your faith for just a little longer.
It would be easy to rush the landing because you have worked hard for this moment and you can see the completion just ahead. Like a pilot who has learned to not rush a landing, so it will be for you. If you can be patient for just a little longer, you will touch down gently and wonder how everything worked out so smoothly. Happy flying!