We travelled over tall mountains on an extremely windy day and we both learned firsthand what it feels like to be in a tiny Cessna while flying through what they call "mountain wave turbulence". I have been through turbulence in a Cessna (small plane) before. It feels like you're free falling for a short few seconds, and then the wind pulls you back up. I have NEVER felt anything like what I felt the other week, and Harris has not either (so he told me, thankfully, AFTER we landed).
I looked up mountain wave turbulence, and here is what I found to be some of the effects:
- Loss of control and/or level bust: The vertical currents in the waves can make it difficult for an aircraft to maintain altitude. It can cause significant fluctuations in airspeed potentially leading to loss of control. Loss of control can occur near to the ground with a risk of terrain contact.
- Turbulence: Aircraft can suffer structural damage as a result of encountering turbulence. In extreme cases this can lead to the break up of the aircraft. Even moderate turbulence can cause damage to fittings within the aircraft. Passengers can be injured.
- Icing: Severe icing can be experienced within the clouds associated with the wave peaks.
I couldn't have told you those definitions before this flight, but know I know the effects of mountain waves intimately. I sometimes get afraid when we fly, but I would easily say that this was the most afraid I have ever been in my life. We tossed and turned, went up and down, and it felt like we were just a paper airplane in a tornado.
I tried all the techniques they suggest: I looked at far-away points on the horizon, I focused away from the controls (which were beeping and flashing at this point - I don't know what they mean, but my brain goes wild with potential possibilities), I breathed deeply and slowly, and I sat on my hands. None of that really helped me, we were not in control. I cried.
Harris was completely calm, very comforting (as much as he could be), and communicated well with air traffic control employees and his fearful wife. I sat and I prayed. Hard.
I felt completely in God's hands.. literally. I knew that there was absolutely nothing we could do to change the outcome of our flight. If we were going down, it was not because Harris was a bad pilot. He controlled the plane very well, even his instructors told him so afterwards. Harris is the best pilot I know and very prepared and responsible, but at that moment, I knew that God had it, the outcome that is ... whatever it would be.
Now, isn't that funny. We felt like we were in God's hands. Well, aren't we always??
We live under the false idea that we have control over our lives. To some extent, yes we do, we have to make choices. We have free will. Ultimately, however, I know that the Lord is in control at all times. Anything could happen.
The Lord was gracious enough to show me in a tangible way that I am truly in His hands. My life, my dreams, my goals, my family, and anything and everything else in my life is completely under His rule. I choose also to believe, from reading in the Bible, that He is good, even through the hard things. I am thankful for my life and the lessons that God walks me through each day. I am also thankful that apparently He's not done with me here on Earth yet!