Fascinated by Airplanes

“Fascinated by Airplanes,” Ensign, Aug. 1972, 45

Fascinated by Airplanes

In June 1959, several members of the Historian’s Office staff took a short vacation for several days and went by raft down the Colorado River. Returning to his office, the present Church archivist, Earl E. Olson, said, “For a real vacation, President, you ought to try that river trip sometime.”

He replied wryly, “Why should I spend all that time? I’ve been over the Colorado River territory in a jet. We’ve flown high and we’ve gone down low. I’ve seen the Colorado River in a way that few have seen it.” After that, when they talked about what they had seen from their perspective from the bottom of the canyons, President Smith would talk about what he had seen from above. It was so typical of his role in life—always raising our sights to the long-range perspective.

President Smith’s love of flying occasionally came to his rescue. Several years ago he found himself with an important appointment that kept him in Salt Lake City most of Saturday, yet he was assigned to conduct a quarterly conference in San Francisco Saturday evening and Sunday. It worried him, because he prided himself on the way his appointments seldom, if ever, conflicted. It looked as if this time an appointment would have to be cancelled.

He casually mentioned the problem to one of his friends in the Air National Guard, who replied, “Don’t cancel either of your appointments. It so happens that my crew needs some additional flying time this month, and I think flying the jet to San Francisco late Saturday will be just about the time in the air that we need.”

President Smith joyfully kept both of his Saturday appointments that day.