John’s solo flight at age 15

When I was fourteen I worked at a little uncontrolled airport in Issaquah, Washington. During the week it was a dairy farm and on weekends the cows were penned up so sailplanes and skydivers could use the pastures as a runway. My job was to clean up the gliders, hook up tow cables and run along side them balancing their wings until they could get up enough speed to take off. I was working in exchange for flying lessons.

I didn’t really understand what “uncontrolled” meant until one fateful day the cows got out. Bessie and her cohorts charged out onto the runway/pasture just as a glider was coming in for a landing. At the very same time, the tow plane was landing from the other direction and a poor parachutist, on his very first jump, was coming down in the middle of it all. It was a sight to see!

Fortunately the tow plane pilot saw what was happening and pulled up in time to fly over the glider. Someone jumped into an antique Jeep and roared down the “runway” parting the bovine sea ahead of the unfortunate sailplane. Red and white sailplane landing, blue and white power plane flying straight up, poor terrified skydiver coming straight down and a very silly looking stampede of black and white milk cows racing in all directions.

Unbelievably, no one was hurt (although it did take a while to revive the parachutist after we dug him out from under his billowing white drape). No one will ever forget the chaos of that afternoon.

Does life ever seem that chaotic to you? People coming and going – demands on time, energy and those few precious moments you were saving? The fourth of the Ten Commandments says, “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” This commandment recognizes people need time to stop, think and put everything back into perspective. Why wait for the weekend though? It’s time for a pause right now.

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