Sunday, September 22, 2013

A pilot's true story

You may have noticed over the past couple of years a rise in the popularity of books about near-death experiences (NDEs). While I think the topic has always been an interesting one to most people regardless of their own personal beliefs, books such as Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo (with Lynn Vincent), To Heaven and Back by Dr. Mary C. Neal, Waking up in Heaven by Crystal McVea, and Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander (read my blog post about it here), not to mention numerous talk-show appearances by the authors and cover stories in magazines, have all propelled NDEs back into the national spotlight. If taking an armchair-tour of heaven is your thing, you've undoubtedly read most of the above-mentioned books and others like it in the library's collection, but here's one you might have missed: Flight to Heaven: A Plane Crash ... A Lone Survivor ... A Journey to Heaven -- and Back by Captain Dale Black. 

Dale Black in 1968

On July 18, 1969, Dale, who was just nineteen years old and training to become a pilot, his friend and mentor Chuck Burns, and the pilot that day, Gene Bain, had planned to make a routine training flight in a Piper Navajo. They took off from California's Burbank Airport, but after immediately sensing that something was wrong with the plane, they attempted to land in a nearby cemetery. Unfortunately, the plane clipped the tops of several trees that stood in the way and slammed head-on into a seventy-five-foot high cement and marble memorial dedicated, ironically enough, to fallen aviators: the Portal of the Folded Wings. Gene and Chuck died that day, and Dale found himself embarking on an incredible journey to a place that he could only describe later as heaven.

Actual photo of the crash site and plane wreckage

This experience changed Dale forever, forcing him to see the world through very different eyes, and those who knew him before the crash couldn't ignore his startling transformation. And if surviving the crash wasn't enough of a miracle, the fact that he healed rapidly and sufficiently enough to pass his FAA physical and pilot a Piper Cherokee over the very monument he'd crashed into--all in exactly one year's time, mind you--proved to him that his life truly was in God's hands. As he told the control tower on July 18, 1970, "Burbank Tower, thank you for your help today. This is 37 November reminding you that with God...nothing shall be impossible." Every year for the next twenty-five years, he would make an anniversary flight over the Portal of the Folded Wings.

Dale, wife Paula, and daughter Kara (April 2012)

So what exactly did Dale see and experience during his "flight to heaven" that had such a transformative effect on his life? Well, you'll just have to read the book to find out. Flight to Heaven can be requested through the library's SearchOhio service by clicking here.

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