If you’ve ever flown in a large airliner and been seated on or near a wing, you’ll notice that there are adjustments made to the size and configuration of the wings before the pilot begins his takeoff roll. Flaps and slats are extended, which increases the surface area and shape of the wings. Large jet aircraft need this.
I remember vividly a terrible object lesson that illustrated what can happen when this crucial pre-takeoff step is omitted. I lived north of Detroit, MI, in August, 1987. One very hot and muggy Sunday evening, I was busy making donuts for the next day’s business at the bakery where I worked. Sweat poured off me.
About an hour into the shift, a newsflash interrupted the regular radio programming announcing that a large airliner departing from Detroit Metro Airport had crashed upon takeoff. There was one survivor—a little girl named Cecilia who was shielded by her mother. It was an event that haunts Michiganders even now, years later.
The ensuing NTSB investigation yielded the crucial piece of information as to why this flight was doomed. Engine failure? No. Mid-air collision with another aircraft? Again, no. The pilots had forgotten to extend the flaps and slats. It was a hot, muggy night and this important pre-takeoff adjustment was even more critical. The plane didn’t get the lift it needed and collided with the light towers of the nearby car rental area just northeast of the airport and came down on Middlebelt Rd.
The crash of Northwest Airlines Flight 255 was a tragedy. Lives lost and families changed forever.
In life, we talk about “hitting the mark for our lives.” We speak of our dreams, things we want to be and do. Doing so, we often use the metaphors of flying. “Fly high—the sky’s the limit.” And so forth.
Often, we fail to get lift not unlike the jet that crashed that muggy August evening. And, like an airliner, it is because we don’t prepare ourselves–emotionally, mentally, and physically–to accelerate into the wind and get airborne, moving towards a better future.
All the jet engines in the world will not get a plane off the ground if the shape and volume of the plane’s wings are incorrect, either by design or failure at during pre-flight adjustments.
Can I suggest that some basic modifications—and these are not big—can help us all really to roll on down the runway, get the lift we need, and soar? Here are some:
- Don’t be dependent on the approval of others before you roll down the runway. Hitting a “Like” button on a social media website really doesn’t carry a whole lot of weight in the long haul—unless, of course, you let it.
- Be honest with your makeup, drives, loves and preferences. It’s doing something for which you have both aptitude and enjoyment that ultimately helps you fly. Yes, we all have day jobs which we may or may not “love” but we can leverage these as well as our hobbies and avocations for the flight.
- Avoid negative people. They “drag” you down. Drag hinders flight and is the reason that any jet you watch lift off the runway pulls in its landing gear immediately. Drag will keep it from flying high and can bring it down.