“A Pilot’s Story,” an Engineer’s Story, and a Christian’s Story

Phyllis Nissila

A friend sent me a video clip about the pilot who was originally scheduled to fly the airplane carrying the passengers of Flight # 11 on September 11th, 2001. The plane was one of the two flown into the Twin Towers. He tells his remarkable story in the YouTube video, “In My Seat, A Pilot’s Story,” posted below.

The pilot, Steve Scheibner, honors Tom McGuinness, the captain who took the assignment and who in effect died in Scheibner’s place. My heartfelt condolences go out to the family of Tom McGuinness.

Scheibner also honors Another Who “died in his stead” in a very different way.

The narrative reminds me of another extraordinary rescue. This one happened during the Vietnam War but was not “discovered” until about twenty years later, where we pick it up.

My brother Greg and a new business associate named McCoy concluded their business and sat back to chat. They soon discovered they were both Vietnam veterans and had served in the conflict at the same time in the late 1960s. McCoy was a helicopter pilot, my brother, a broadcast engineer. As they compared war stories McCoy described this scene.

He and his co-pilot were transporting wounded soldiers through the din of battle back to a village called Chu Lai in the South China Sea region. The flight was especially dangerous because the helicopter had received a lot of damage that rendered most of the instruments unusable. Among what little remained working was a radio receiver, so McCoy tuned to the American Forces Vietnam (AFVN) broadcast station in Chu Lai and by peaking the signal-stength meter as a crude method of establishing a compass heading he was able to zig-zag the battered aircraft and its precious cargo back to safety.

As McCoy described the incident, my brother recognized both the day and time this occurred as a day and time he was the engineer on duty at AFVN (later verified in his wartime memorabilia). Incredulous, he told McCoy. The two men looked at each other, grasping what had happened.

“Thanks…for…saving my life,” said McCoy, at length. At his next visit, McCoy brought another “Thank you” from his wartime co-pilot who was also saved that night along with the wounded aboard the helicopter.

The narratives above are both testimonies to the coincidences in life that result in extraordinary rescues. Scheibner’s story also implicates the certainty of “spiritual rescue” for all who choose Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, rescues effected by “heroes” of another sort.

Each one who becomes a believer has been aided by one or more Christians: relatives, co-workers, and friends who shine as best they can the light of the Gospel as they go about their daily business. Even if their efforts don’t seem like much. Even if they don’t know how those efforts can work. Even if their efforts take a long time to come to fruition. But even in what might seem like just more tedium of the ordinary, Christians accomplish the extraordinary: one more precious life drawn a little closer to God Who desires that all are brought to eternal safety (1 Timothy 2:1-4) and for whom He sent His own Son to die in our stead (John 3:16). And one day, in another kind of reunion altogether, results will be manifest.

May God bless you in your ordinary, extraordinary work today.


This entry was posted in Devotionals, devotionals and commentaries featuring technology, most recent posts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “A Pilot’s Story,” an Engineer’s Story, and a Christian’s Story

  1. gpcox says:

    A wonderful tribute to your brother and others that served. I lost far too many childhood friends in Nam as did so many others.


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