Atheist pilot mocked God, until he ran out of fuel in a snowstorm
Raised in the secular Seventies, completely un-churched, he had no room for God until he ran out of fuel in an Alaskan storm, miles from his destination, reports Mark Ellis, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service.
“I was a God mocker,” says Mark Rose, founder of Genesis Alive, and the author of Last of the Long Hunters, a story of the pilots who fly the Alaskan Arctic.
Rose learned to fly at 16, and by age 22 had become a bush pilot who helped to take care of a fleet of helicopters that worked on the Alaska pipeline. “My ego meter was on 101,” he admits.
One day he flew some hunters to the upper part of a large river on the Arctic. But on his return flight, carrying one passenger, several things went wrong. First, herds of caribou had moved in, covering his first and second choices for a landing spot. Then he began to run low on fuel, so he called ahead for a weather check at the small airport near Kotzebue, on the Baldwin Peninsula.
“Come on in, the weather’s fine,” the FAA flight service operator told him.
He decided to take the chance his fuel would hold out, but then weather conditions changed dramatically. “I ran into a snowstorm at night, and I couldn’t see the terrain, so I had to follow the gray ribbon of river below.” In the days before satellite weather imaging, the man had given him bad advice.
“All my options were evaporating as fast as I could fly.”
Rose had several friends – fellow pilots – who perished in similar flying conditions. There must be a way out, he thought. I don’t want to die at 22. I won’t get to experience marriage…
He had been flying on empty for 30 minutes. Then the engine started missing. “I was just waiting for silence and to have to crash at night.”