By Bob Polk
Almost every person who loves airplanes and is interested in aviation has an appreciation and respect for the Douglas DC-3 aircraft. Although it first flew in 1935, it has a long and successful history. It has been credited with paving the way for modern air travel. The airplane was powered by two propellers and with a body which could be used for passengers or cargo. Airlines began ordering them and putting them in service. When World War II came the U. S. Air Force soon had about 10,000 in operation using the designation C-47. They were used to transport troops, the wounded and military cargo. When the war ended, the surplus planes were sold and quickly purchased by airlines. In the Appalachian area, some will remember Piedmont Airlines who flew them from 1948 until 1963. In developing countries they were popular because they could land on dirt landing strips. They were known for their versatility, reliability, economy, and were easily maintained. After more than 70 years, some are still flying.
While I was missionary in Colombia, I had an opportunity to fly on a DC-3. Some of my friends were pilots and mechanics who served with JAARS, which was the aviation wing of Wycliffe Bible Translators. They invited me to fly with them from Bogota to the Wycliffe compound near the jungle area where the translators worked. We lifted off and continued to climb higher because the flight carried us over the Andes Mountains. Since the cabin was not pressurized, we had plastic tubes over the seats to receive oxygen.
It was a short flight and soon we were landing successfully on a dirt runway. The day was a very pleasant one with an opportunity to meet new people and appreciate their work. After lunch the clouds began to roll in and it started to rain. Since it was the rainy season, the pilot anticipated this. I wondered about the dirt runway and if it would be muddy. My pilot friend assured me that there was no problem We lifted off through the clouds and very soon broke through the mist into a bright sunny day and a blue sky arriving safely at home.
Standing on a dirt strip in the rain preparing to board an airplane was a little troubling for an inexperienced passenger. Sometimes life produces the same anxiety and we feel that we are living under a cloud. The Bible reminds us “..we know that all things work together for good to those that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) We are also told that “we walk by faith and not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) We live above the clouds when we remember that faith is not only believing but it is also living.