Friday, February 29, 2008


For the March 9, 1929, dedication of the airport and inauguration of the Mexico City-New York airmail route, famed aviator Charles Lindbergh flew the first airmail from Mexico City to Brownsville Texas, escorted by Mexican government officials and military planes. The flight was 5 hours and 38 minutes long. Amelia Earhart was there and a crowd of 20,000 people greeted Lindbergh. The day-long celebration featured wing walking and other aerial feats. In Brownsville, Pan American Airways launched the first "blind-flying school," now called instrument flying, as part of its airport operation on the border.

I had never flown in Mexico, or the desert when I left Brownsville Texas for the five hundred mile flight to Torreon Mexico. I had nothing but primary flight instruments. There were no airports along the way, no cities or towns; no Omni radio stations, and No GPS or navigation equipment. I only had the map in my head. It’s called “Dead Reckoning” because if you don’t reckon right you will wind up dead. I learned to look at everything on the instruments and the ground because a slight wind could cause me to drift off course. My instructors had taught me to watch for anything on the ground that could show wind direction.

The trip took four hours and 17 minutes. It was March 20, 1964. That was 35 years after Lindbergh’s Mexico City to Brownsville trip. We both had about the same equipment but Lindbergh could turn slightly east and follow the coastline to Brownsville. I could turn anyway I chose and see nothing but endless desert and hundred of miles of nothing. I had to find the airport at Torreon before the forty gallons of gas in the two fuel tanks would be empty. The fuel gauges were bumping on empty when I landed at Torreon and I put 39 and a half gallons in the fuel tanks.

After some lunch I knew that I would have a problem getting over the mountains that surrounded Torreon. The elevation at Torreon airport is 3,280 feet and that plus the noonday heat would make it difficult to climb over the mountains. It took about 30 minutes of circling over the airport before I could climb over the mountains and start the long stretch to Durango. After several hours I was safely on the ground in Durango Mexico. My great friend and fellow Missionary Pilot Jerry Whitt picked me up at the airport. I was really glad to be on the ground in Durango.

The next day we wasted no time and planned a trip to a small village up in the mountains. There was a dirt runway at 8700 feet elevation and we decided that we could get in there with just enough fuel to make the trip with two people in each of our planes. We also needed to leave before11 o'clock because heat plus altitude would reduce the climbing ability of our planes. It's called "density altitude". In these remote areas any time a plane flys over or lands, you have plenty of company. While Jerry went into the village with a Government Doctor another Missionary pilot named Johnny gave these fellows an inspirational lesson from the Bible. I almost cried as I made this photo of them listening and knelling in the rocky dirt.

Jerry and the Doctor came back and told us a mother in the village was dying with encephalitis. It would take 17 hours by winding mountain roads to get her to the hospital. It would only take 30 minutes to fly her to Durango. It would mean flying back with three people in each plane. It was already getting hot, and we knew the risk of density altitude. With the extra weight it would be very difficult to get airborne.

We quickly made the decision to do what we knew had to be done. Jerry took off first with the sick mother and the Doctor in his plane. I watched as he struggled to get in the air, and for a moment went below the trees. He called me on the radio and said: "Lets get out of here. I'm O.K". With Johnny and the woman's husband in my plane I prayed a quick prayer and I took off. I knew the clearing was pretty long and curving but heard the stall warming repeatedly go off if I tried to gain a little Altitude.

I nursed the plane around the clearing...with the stall warning still going off. As the trees came up in front of me I remember my old instructor telling me how he put a plane in the top of some trees. I prayed a silent prayer and pulled the plane up over the trees at the end of the clearing and saw the mountain drop away. I put the nose down, gained some flying speed and we flew back to Durango. We used the radio to have an ambulance waiting at the airport. I quickly got out of my plane and made this photograph of Jerry, the Doctor with a towel around his neck, and the woman's anxious husband behind him.

It was very difficult to evangelize in Mexico. When we first landed in Los Chocos a man came running up the hill and tried to get the people to stone us and burn our planes. The people didn't listen to him because they knew an Army Comandante and a Doctor was in the village treating a very sick woman. This flight gave us some much needed protection from the Commandante of the Army post up in the mountains. He said: "Please come back any time to preach and help us. I'll see to it personally that no one bothers you".

Friday, February 15, 2008


Flying out of Durango Mexico we found a small dirt airstrip near a tiny village. We landed and was immediately surrounded with a crowd of people. They were eager to hear the gospel. On the right of the picture in a white shirt was Jerry Whitt a wonderful missionary pilot. His plane is parked behind mine.

I need to tell you how I became a Missionary Pilot.

I went to church with my mother for years and it was just old, boring stuff to me. By the time I was 11 years old I had my own dreams and it didn't include anything connected with the church. It was 1943 and all I wanted to do was to become an Army Air Corp Pilot. Unfortunately I was too young to do that. I loved airplanes and built dozens of models, some that flew and some static replica's of the real thing.

One evening in the bed by myself I had a strange, very strong presence (sorry I can't explain it any better...) come over me and I knew it was the Spirit of God. It would be impossible to describe the struggle that I had for the next three weeks. To my dismay I knew that God was speaking to me. No, not in an audible voice, but something like "thought transference". God had access to my mind I knew what he wanted from me.

He was calling me to give my life and heart to him and make a lifetime commitment to be a Minister of the gospel. Alone, without telling anyone what was happening, I wept, pleaded, struggled and kept saying NO! During the day and especially at night that "presence" would create so much anxiety in me that I wept. I grew up pretty much by myself and being very self-reliant during this time I never told anyone what was going on.

My Father was a good man who worked himself almost to death to feed, clothe and take care of 10 people in our family during the worst of the depression. I respected him but we were not "pals" or close to each other. He didn't have time to do anything but work, worry and take care of his large family. He didn't like the church my mother attended, and so he would stay home on Sunday and cook a wonderful meal for the family. He was a smart, intelligence and gifted man.

After struggling for weeks I heard a message from this powerful presence that was with me all the time. The message was: "If I didn't do something my Father would be lost". I had been to church enough to know what that meant. God knew how to break my heart.

I never told anyone why I surrendered my life to the Lord. Especially not my parents or family. It was something between God and me. I promised to give up all my desires, plans, and ambitions and spend my life as a Minister. I didn't know how I could do that, but I knew God would have to make it happen. My dream of being a pilot was part of what I had to surrender to God.

It's odd that I never told anyone, certainly not my Father what had happened to me. I had a solid covenant with God and that's all I needed. I would give him my life, and he would save my Dad. When I graduated from High School at 16 years old, my Dad asked me what I was going to do. He wanted me to go to college and become an Engineer. When I told him I was going to be a Minister he became very angry.

I wasn't angry. I just felt sad because I couldn't do what he wanted me to do and I couldn't tell him why. A few months later I left home without knowing where I was going. I had nothing but a few clothes, my Bible, and $2.37 cents in my pocket. I would somehow become a Minister.

I'll skip lots of the story and fast forward to 1962. My wife Maggie and I were leaving a wonderful church we pastored in Indiana and many loving people who have remained our friends for over 45 years. I moved to Atlanta with very little money and started another church. I had learned like the Apostle Paul, to work at a variety of jobs to put food on the table. One day after long hours of hard work I was driving down the South Expressway to Griffin when God was suddenly talking to me again.

God told me to turn in to the South Expressway Airport - which was just ahead of me, and buy an Airplane. He was going to send me to the Mission field as a Missionary Pilot. I didn't have enough money in my pocket to buy a meal much less an airplane. I had learned not to question or argue with God so I found myself talking to John Galloway, the operator of the airport. I picked out an airplane...a Cessna Skyhawk 7504x and told John I wanted to buy it. He said: Fine! How do you want to pay for it?

I told him I didn't know, I didn't have any money. John was an old retired Air Force Captain and he laughed and said: "Well, Preacher, come back when you've got the money." I said: "Don't sell that Airplane because I'll be back for it in a few day."

The next day I was working as a graphic artist to keep us fed, and I prayed silently. "O.K. God, where are you going to get the $9,250.00 to buy that airplane?" I got an immediate reply. After a rebuke for my impertinent prayer God said: "Call a man in Marion Indiana and tell him to buy the plane for you." I had never in my life ever done anything like that. That night I called a former member and wonderful friend and told him timidly...."Harold, God spoke to me and told me to buy an airplane and be a missionary pilot. Will you pray with me about it."

"Nope..." he said. I won't do that". Now I was shocked! He said: "God spoke to me a month ago to buy an airplane for a missionary and I've just been waiting for you to call so I would know which plane to buy. I'll send you a check in the morning". A few days later I bought the plane and John Gallaway who ran the airport was shocked when I told him the story. So was everyone else. Including me.

God didn't tell me I couldn't learn to fly. I had worked at the Airport in Lanett Alabama and Fred Robinson gave me flying lessons before I finished high school. Fred was the best instructor I could have ever had. He sent Charles Lindberg to South Georgia many years before to buy an old "jenny" and to learn to fly. He fixed Amelia Airheart's Lockheed Vega at Candler Field in Atlanta. Fred helped design the B-29 during the Second World War, and taught the pilots how to fly them. He was a tough and hard instructor in the air, but he turned into a warm and kind friend on the ground.

When I bought the plane I started working with the best instructor pilots I could find. I needed to know a lot about terrain flying, dead reckoning navigation and high density altitude. Night flying, instrument flying, careful preparation for each flight were just a few of the things I knew I needed to stay alive. Often when flying I could hear in my mind the voices of my first instructor Fred Robinson, and many other wonderful Instructor pilots telling me what to do.

I was filled with joy and amazement as I flew all over the States, preaching and raising money for the Mission trips. I couldn't believe it. I had my own airplane. God called on me to give up being a Military Pilot and then gave me the opportunity to fly and preach the gospel in Mexico, Guatamala and Honduras.

Albert Einstien when he was living in America and had learned to speak english said: "God is strict - but he ain't mean". That certainly fits my case. With God's help I had many amazing and wonderful experiences as a Missionary Pilot.

I'll give you more of the story in the next blog.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Jesus worked in Joseph's carpenter shop from the time he was twelve years old until he began his ministry at the age of thirty. You can read the story of the early life of Jesus in Luke Chapter two.

At twelve years old after being missing for three days they found him asking questions and talking about the Law of God with the experts. (Luke 2:46-47 KJV) "And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. {47} And all that heard him were astonished at his understand and answers."

After a mild scolding by Mary Luke tells us -- (Luke 2:51 NIV) "Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart."

All kinds of questions run through my mind. Did Jesus see and hear the "haggling" over price in the carpenter's shop? Did he witness the struggle for Joseph to make enough money to support them? It was the custom for a son to learn a trade and eventually support his family. Usually this was to take over the business when the Father was too old to carry on.

Was Jesus a master carpenter? When Jesus started his Ministry they still called him just a carpenter. (Mark 6:23 NIV) "When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these thing?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! {3} Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him."

There's no record that he ever asked for money, or took an offering, or became wealthy. He didn't have to beg. The record does show that Godly people looked after him and supplied his needs. What an amazing thing to have cared for and supplied the needs of the Son of God!

So how did he live for the next three and a half years? We have a clue when Jesus sent out his disciples to preach the gospel. In Matthew 12 his disciples were hungry and went into a corn field, plucked some of the corn and ate it. Of course, the Pharisee's had a cow about the desciples of Jesus doing something unlawful on the Sabboth day, but Jesus told them that according to their own law it was legal for them to do so. (They had many rules or excuses for breaking the law of Moses)

Is the answer because Jesus could work miracles? Jesus took a little boy's lunch of five barley loaves, and two small fishes and fed a multitude. (You will only find the fact that it was a little boy's lunch in John 6:9) Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the snoptic gospels. A blended view. The gospel of John stands alone and gives us many facts not found in the snoptic gospels.

We have to go back to the snoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke to find out that Jesus took five loaves and two small fishes and fed five thousand men, and all the women and children present. Then they gathered up twelve baskets full of leftovers. From Jesus our Lord we have learned the joy of working and giving.

What a day !!! (He never did that again.)

Why not? Miracles are rare occurances. I don't know of anyone who can produce a miracle. Only God can do that.

With such great power why did he borrow the "ass and colt" to ride into Jerusalem? (Matthew 21:2-3) We all know that if we promise people "easy and plentiful miracles" they will come by the thousands. We also know that often they leave disappointed.

Why didn't Jesus do that? People come to God not when they are full, but when they are empty. We get serious about finding God when we are in desperate need. Do I believe in Miracles? Yes! I've experienced many powerful and humanly impossible and inexplicable things in my life. When they happen I am totally amazed.

When Jesus sent his disciples out to preach the gospel he gave them these instructions. (Mat 10:9-16 NIV) "Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; {10} take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep. {11} "Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. {12} As you enter the home, give it your greeting. {13} If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. {14} If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. {15} I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. {16} I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves."

My wife and I have lived by this principal for almost 60 years. We have often had only what we needed to preach and teach the gospel. We now live on our combined Social Security of $890.00 a month. How do we do that and still print full color booklets, make CD's and give them to needy people that we meet each day? Many Godly people have helped us and met our needs, and only eternity will reveal how we have all been blessed by being laborers together.

Paul wrote to the Phillipians: (Phil 4:12-13 NIV) "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. {13} I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

As Ordained Ministers for over 60 years we still keep Christian Ministries going. God provides the opportunity and we pray for and encourage those we meet each day. What a joy it is to remember those who helped us and made it possible for us to "give CD's and booklets" to troubled people. We remember each morning as we pray together all the special friends who provide for our needs. What a joy and blessing it is to the people in need of his love.