“In the Shadow of His Wings,” Ensign, July 2008, 70–71
Having recently completed basic flying instruction in Phoenix, Arizona, I had certified after a few hours of solo flying to take my first solo flight across the state. This would entail a two-hour route from Phoenix to Tucson and back to Phoenix.
Excited by the anticipation of flying by myself 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above the earth and viewing the beauty of the clouds, mountains, valleys, and desert, I thought little of my inexperience and any possible dangers that might await me.
I checked the weather, filed my flight plan, and gathered a radio, compass, and basic flight instruments. As is common at this stage of flight instruction, I still lacked training in the use of advanced instruments. But the older plane I would be flying had none of the sophisticated instruments that would allow a pilot to fly without visual cues.
I was a little nervous taking off by myself in my small yellow single-engine monoplane, but the flight from Phoenix to Tucson went well. I was thrilled with my new aerial skills.
Elated and confident and with only 120 miles (190 km) to go, I took off from Tucson for Phoenix late in the afternoon. However, after I was barely airborne, I unexpectedly experienced strong wind currents that made it difficult to control the altitude of my plane. A dust storm suddenly engulfed me, and I could no longer see. Tossed side to side, I lost control and became frantically disoriented and afraid, realizing that I was dangerously close to the Catalina mountain range.
In a panic I thought of my life. I was engaged to be married the following month in the Mesa Arizona Temple. I had served an honorable full-time mission. I had always tried to obey the commandments and listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. If I ever needed divine guidance, it was now. Almost despairing, I uttered a silent prayer. The Spirit immediately whispered to me, “Rely on your radio, your compass, and your instrument panel, and drop your altitude.”
I quickly descended several hundred feet. Visibility was still poor, but below me I could make out a highway and railroad tracks. By using my instruments and following visual landmarks, I was able to finally land at the airport in Phoenix after a harrowing two-hour experience.
I will always be grateful for the promptings of the Holy Ghost and the promise in Psalms: “In the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge” (Psalm 57:1).