Aw man. Sometimes I am amazed of how the LORD can turn a simple everyday occurrence into something totally memorable in our lives. That is exactly what happened several years ago when I was unexpectedly treated like some sort of a high roller. We were good to go!
While I was working for Western Jubilee Recording Company in Colorado Springs, one of our top acts, the Sons of the San Joaquin, were scheduled to perform outside of Trinidad, CO at a venue called the Colt Ranch. Now, I had met Doc Colt and his wife earlier at another venue and they had invited me to come down anytime and be their guest at their ranch. So I felt comfortable calling them up and taking them up on that offer.
It just so happened that Bear was booked out of state on that same weekend, so I decided to call up our friend Lori Parsons to see if she would like to accompany me to the concert.
I gave her cell phone a call –
“Hello?” she answered.
“Hey Lori. It’s Victoria Ward. I know that you love Western music as much as I do and one of our recording artists, the Sons of the San Joaquin, is going to be in concert outside of Trinidad on Saturday. Bear is out of town, so would you like to go with me? I have a couple of comp tickets courtesy of the Colt Ranch, plus they said they have extra rooms so we can stay there too! What cha’ think?”
“Oh, my! Seriously?! I love those guys! That would be awesome! Thanks!” she excitedly responded.
“Cool beans! Okay, let’s see . . . we better allow about two and half hours driving time . .”
“Nope? What do you mean ‘nope’? I thought you wanted to go? It takes about an hour from here to get to the Springs and then …”
“Not if you’re flying. Probably closer to thirty or forty-five minutes from the Springs to the Trinidad airport, at the most.”
“FLYING?!” I recoil at the very word. I hate flying! Especially in small planes! I always get air sick! I mean, I get air sick on jumbo-tron mega planes, but especially small aircrafts!
“You forget Vic. I’m a Captain for American Airlines. I have my own V-Tail Bonanza parked down at the Falcon Airport. So I’ll come pick you up Saturday afternoon and we’ll be good to go! See you then!”
“Good to go?!” I groaned to myself. I will embarrass myself. I just know it. I’ll wind up hurling all over her and her dashboard. Oh, this is going to be terrible! We’ll probably have to make an emergency landing somewhere because of the smell! Good to go?! Aghhhh! I’m stuck now!”
Saturday afternoon turned out to be a beautiful Colorado azure sky with little white puffy clouds floating lazily by. Dang. Deep inside a wanted a monster thunderstorm to change our plans of flying so I could stay on terra firma. But no such luck. We were soon airborne and I ramped up my silent prayers trying to squelch my nerves as I repeated over and over again to God –
“Please don’t let me throw up! Please don’t let me throw up! Please …”
“Just relax, okay? The sky is like a river. Think about it that way. Just like a river, there are all kinds of currents flowing up here. We will find a smooth one and be perfectly fine. Good to go! Oh maybe, we might hit a little pocket of turbulence once in a while . . “
“A river? River my foot! At least a real river is down there at sea level not no stinking twelve miles up in the sky!” I say to myself. I’m not buying this soft sale of flying.
About that time, a loud noise bangs behind us and cool fresh air rushes into the cockpit!
“WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT?!” I jump out of my seat straining against the seatbelt as I grab the dash with both hands, expecting impact at any moment.
Lori lets out a laugh at my panic.
“Oh, that’s nothing! See that little window behind my seat? It wasn’t latched down tight and it blew open. No biggie. Here hold this while I shut it …”
“The yoke. You know, the controls. The thing that steers the plane. I have to climb over my seat and shut the window . . . “, she is keeping her voice low and calm as she is carefully explaining to me what she has to do. She flips some sort of lever in front of her moving the steering column over from in front of her to in front of me! I went from a panicking passenger to a co-pilot with one motion!
“OMG! I don’t know anything about flying a plane, Lori!” I almost start crying as I grab both sides of the contraption with white sweaty palms. I immediately start glancing back and forth; then left to right, then above the plane and then below the plane; and then back to center and start the pattern all over again.
“Um, Vic. What are you doing?” Lori asks in her same calm, low voice as she unbuckles her seatbelt and removes her headset.
“I’m looking for traffic!” I reply with a ‘what a stupid question to ask me at this time’ look at my friend.
“Traffic?!” she busts out laughing again. “There is no traffic around us! Look right here. See that little airplane symbol and the straight line on this dial?” she points to a round dial in the center of the way too many buttons and knobs dashboard. She continues still talking slow and low with the loud noise of air gushing in behind us.
“Just keep it level like you’re doing, okay? I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be back in two seconds!” And she disappears over the seat. Well, the front part of her disappeared over her seat.
It was longer than two seconds. I counted while I prayed –
“Father, please don’t let me throw up. . .one one-thousand . . .and Lord, please don’t let me crash this plane . . . two one-thousand . . .where is she?! . .. three one-thousand . .”
Later on that afternoon prior to the concert, I was decked out in my western finery as Lori and I approached Jack, Joe, and Lon Hannah as they were standing backstage.
“Hey, look who’s here! It’s Victoria! Good to see you!” They all three turned our way when they recognized me.
“Howdy boys! Say, I’d like to introduce you guys to my private pilot, Lori Parsons . . .” I said with a little swagger in my voice.
Nothing to it. I flew a plane.
Good to go!