“Our aircraft carrier was steaming in a northerly direction in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Sea of Japan, one late fall day,” wrote a former pilot. The seas were heavy but not too rough to prevent air operations that day. “Our flight, the last one for the day, launched around 3:00 p.m. and lasted for an uneventful hour and a half,” he recalled.
He was unprepared for what would happen when he returned to the aircraft carrier. “We found the ship pitching up and down and rolling in such heavy seas that our planes had great difficulty landing. Six times I tried to land and 6 times was waved off. I became anxious.” His plane was running out of fuel. He was running out of options and was in serious danger. “On my 8th attempt, I was again waved off. I could either climb into a parachute altitude and eject before I ran out of fuel or make one more attempt to land, with no chance of parachuting to safety. If I failed, the plane would go into the sea.”
“As I flew downwind and prepared to turn onto the base leg of my approach, I prayed out loud into my oxygen mask but not over the radio: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, I need your help now or I will die. This is beyond my ability to control.’” He thought of his wife of only 6 months who was expecting their 1st child. He cried out, “I want a family. I want to see my children.” As he turned for his final approach, “Suddenly a feeling of great warmth, love, and indescribable joy came over me. My anxiety was gone. Although my hands were on the controls, a far better pilot than me was flying that plane. I knew instantly my prayer was being answered and that I had nothing to fear.” He landed safely. Later the aircraft line chief told him that his plane was bone dry of jet fuel when he landed.