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  • Writer's pictureMark Alan Williams

The First Time I Flew In An Airplane

Updated: Mar 26, 2019

It was an unforgettable childhood experience!

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The first time I flew in an airplane was sometime in the early 1960’s. Our family friend from church, Harley Snook, had an airfield and a small airplane near our home. Harley took the plane up with my father and me beside him. I was absolutely enthralled. You can see some pictures of the actual airplane and a watercolor painting of the airfield below.

This is a color pencil drawing of Snook Field done by my friend and former neighbor Colin Sutphin. Facebook users can read his vignette on the “You know you’re from Reynoldsburg page…” HERE. Used by permission of the artist.

I remember looking out the side of the airplane with the window open! My father next to me was holding tight onto his little boy, I’m sure. We flew over houses that looked like pieces on a Monopoly game and roads looked like something created for a toy railroad display. I was absolutely mesmerized.

Since then I’ve flown to every inhabited continent of the world. Most of the visits to 65 countries have involved flights. It all started with that first flight.

Recently Colin Sutphin connected me to an article saying that very same airplane is now going to be on permanent display at the Ohio State University.

Although I was young, I think I learned a few lessons on that wonderful day.

Here are 3 lessons I learned the first time I flew in an airplane:

#1. Exciting things can happen when you step out in faith.

As my father and I boarded that plane, I remember thinking, “Wow, are we really going to do this?”

Dad certainly had faith. He could have said, “There’s no way am I going to risk my life and my little boy’s life in this tiny aircraft.”

Certainly, many have died in small plane crashes. Christian musician Keith Green is a notable tragic example. In 1959, rock and roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson all died in small airplane crash.

For that matter, I could have said I was too scared, and my father would likely have not forced me to go up in that plane. But I didn’t, and we created a wonderful father/son memory.

Since then I have stepped out in faith many times, often remembering Hebrews 11:6 “Without faith it is impossible to please God…” I’ve stepped out in faith to plant churches with virtually no resources, become a “faith-supported” missionary and just recently at age 61 to start a new discipleship ministry called “Discipleship Journeys with Jesus.”

I have never regretted stepping out in faith for God! Faith in people has sometimes severely disappointed me. But trusting God has been wonderful. I’m glad I learned to step out in faith.

This is the actual airplane that we flew in with Harley Snook at the controls. A recent article tells how it will be on permanent display at the terminal of the Ohio State University Airport.

#2. Friends are often the gateway to awesome experiences.

That first time I flew would not have happened without my father’s friend from church: Harley Snook. In fact, our church would not have happened without Harley and Velma Snook. The church began in their home!

I remember attending Sunday School in their basement and learning Bible stories upstairs in their living room. That was the same living room where many years later my friend Mike Regan and I visited Harley as he was dying of cancer. That visit was prompted by Mike who said we have a short window of time to see Harley before he would go home to be with Jesus. It was a special deathbed visit of a friend, prompted by a friend.

And sometimes I’ve been the friend that has introduced others to awesome experiences. In fact, I was the one who introduced Mike to Jesus when we were adolescents. It happened in my bedroom when Mike was staying overnight, and we were talking about eternity. To this day he remembers and thanks me for leading him in that awesome experience of coming to know Jesus.

If you don’t know that you have eternal life through Jesus, please go to this link to learn how. I’d love to introduce you to Jesus also!

#3. The further away you get, the better your perspective.

Our perspective changed as we flew up and up and up in that small Piper Cub plane. I had never before seen fields that looked like a patchwork quilt from above. Cars and trucks looked like toys. People were as small as insects. I was totally enthralled with the higher perspective.

Often we exaggerate problems by our lack of a higher perspective. Later, when separated from those problems, by time or distance, we find out they are not the problems we thought they were.

A few years ago, it seemed like the roof had caved in on my life—I was discouraged and depressed and felt that things would never get better. But now, years later and far away from the situation, I see how it wasn’t the hopeless situation I thought it was at the time.

I’ll bet you’ve had similar eye-opening changes in perspective.

Of course, there are tragedies and losses that don’t (seem) to ever get better. When Harley Snook died of cancer, it was the end of the flight for him. Or was it? No, it wasn’t!

As a born-again follower of Jesus, I am 100% confident, based on the promise of God’s Word, that Harley lives in the presence of the Lord. As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”

The same is true for any Christ-follower.

This is the blessed hope! It is the incredible perspective of Christians: The worst that can happen (death) is actually the best that can happen!

Your thoughts are welcome! Please leave your comment below.

An older photo of the Piper Cub we flew in on my first flight, possibly taken at Snook Field.

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