The Voice

Sometime last summer, I briefly caught a story about a pilot of a small plane becoming unconscious, and the passenger was forced to take control.

The dramatic part of the story is that the passenger had absolutely no piloting experience. The West Palm Beach flight tower made contact with the plane, found out the model of the cockpit, then gently talked the passenger to land the plane safely. End of story! Maybe.

I think I read the story in those short little news bits with no credits. But apparently it did happen, and several other news agencies had picked it up. Some stories focused on the pilot, some stories on the passengers, some stories focused on the control tower.

I believe Shannon Marshal heard about the story in May of 2022, then wrote his own version in July of 2022.

This time it wasn’t in Florida. It was in Alaska, and it concerned two lawyers trying to get Anchorage, then getting connecting flights to the states. The two lawyers had tickets to Anchorage, but for some reason a local small plane pilot, who was also a pastor, had approached them with an invitation to fly with him immediately to Anchorage. It’s possible that it could have been a longer wait for the commercial flight, but the lawyers changed their plans and went with the small plane.

I was not reading this account, although I found the print version later. I was watching/listening to a very nice YouTube production. The strange acceptance was not the first clue that this was a modified work of fiction. One of the lawyers was sitting up front next to the pilot, and was narrating the story. His voice was a mixture of Barry White, James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman. It was very compelling. The Voice could have been a lawyer, and I would have loved to be a juror.

The second clue in the story is that the pilot calmly mentioned that he had a problem with flying in clouds. He said that the disorientation was so great that he often passes out. As a pilot, he would have checked the weather to Anchorage, and he would have known that the ceiling was 10 feet or less all the way, with thunder and lightning in addition. But he went to the plane anyway, and didn’t tell his passengers about his fainting until just before entering the clouds.

Normally I would have clicked out of the video, but I was fascinated with his voice, and the next literary take in the story. Marshall writes that they both took turns pressing buttons on the microphone while saying “Hello, hello?”. That sounded remarkably real.

And he made mention that someone responded with the question, “Why aren’t you using normal protocol?”. It was a cargo plane passing close enough to relieve the call for help. As the lawyers explained the situation, the cargo plane turned to fly in a circle in order to stay in range. That also sounded real, and I don’t remember any mention of that in the Florida article.

The cargo plane then contacted the Anchorage Control Tower ro take over communications. No mention of how this was accomplished. Again, I was about to change channels once again, but then a remarkable analogy was about to take place.

The Tower told the passenger pilot that the Tower could see him, even if the passenger could not see the Tower. And the passenger could hear his Voice, and he must trust, and obey his Voice in doing whatever he says. Or bad things will happen.

Suddenly, the light clicked on and I wanted to listen to the rest of the story. It was a great analogy, even to the extent that the passengers were not to look out the windows to view the storm. They were to only listen to the Voice and do what it tells them, and when it tells them.

Several times I teared up as I listened. It was a good production. As a believer in Christ I liked the clear analogy. Only one problem…

There was never an indication that this was fiction, based loosely on a real story. Were there clues that this wasn’t real? Certainly, but the story was so exciting, engaging, and maybe even “Hey, I think I just heard something about this…” and both Voices were so compelling.

There was no mention of Shannon Marshall in the YouTube so maybe he doesn’t exist. Even the print version of the story was a guest entry in a community blog.

Does it matter that it might not be real?

Good stories are good!! Truth is better.

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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