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Pilot Dies, Passenger Lands Plane—with His Family on Board

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 12, 2023 3:00 am

Pilot Dies, Passenger Lands Plane—with His Family on Board

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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April 12, 2023 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, the motion picture On a Wing and a Prayer (the perfect Easter movie inspired by a remarkable true story lands on Good Friday, April 7th) follows passenger Doug White's (played by Dennis Quaid) harrowing journey to safely land a plane and save his entire family from insurmountable danger, after their pilot dies unexpectedly mid-flight. Here to share the story is the man who lived it, Doug White.

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Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. Music This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. And we love hearing your stories.

Send them to They're some of our favorites. The motion picture on a wing and a prayer follows passenger Doug White's harrowing journey to safely land a plane and save his entire family from insurmountable danger after their pilot dies unexpectedly mid-flight. By the way, the role is beautifully played by Dennis Quaid. Here to share the story is the man who lived it, Doug White.

Let's take a listen. 1989, I was running a drug store in the little town of Mangum, Louisiana. M-A-N-G-H-A-M. We had no doctors there, so we had to depend on people to come from larger cities like Monroe after they've seen the doctor and bring the prescriptions 30 miles back to our store. Well, my store was literally right beside a drug store that had been there for 100 years and it was called Mangum Drug, been there so long. Well, I was an out-of-towner. I lived 30 miles away and I was originally wasn't from this area. And the lady that was running the drug store next to me was born and raised here. Her daddy owned a cotton gin there.

She graduated from high school there. So to say the least, she was killing me in business. We were just about to starve to death. So rather than try to beat her in business, I just married her and we made one big drug store. And two kids and three granddaughters later, here we are.

So fast forward to 2006. I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and he had just come back from the Cooper Clinic in Dallas. And I said, what's the Cooper Clinic? He said, you know, the guy that invented or started aerobics, Dr. Kenneth Cooper.

And I said, yeah. He said, well, he's got a big clinic out there in Dallas. They don't accept insurance. They don't do any treating, but it's a diagnostic clinic. They just diagnose. And they've got this one test that I went through.

He said that will give you a good indication if you've got any blockages in your cardiac arteries that it's non-invasive like a heart cath is. I said, that sounds interesting to me. I said, I think I'll look into that because I've got a lot of heart trouble in my family on both sides. So I talked to my wife and I said, you want to go to Dallas for the weekend? She said, yeah. Well, we went out there on Friday and made the appointment, went through all the tests and everything. Of course, I'd been riding a bicycle a pretty good bit, so I had some good cardio training under my belt.

And we just all figured I was going to ace all that. Well, the lady comes in after the treadmill. She said, well, it was a positive test. I said, that's good. She said, no, that's not good.

Positive is bad. That means you flunked it. I said, oh, I flunked it.

Yep. And I think you need to have a further exam. So we did the test where they check your calcium in your arteries, the one my buddy was telling me about.

And I flunked that one. And then they had me go do a heart CT and I flunked that one. The guy said, you need to find a cardiologist.

I said, man. So I came back as made for a long weekend. I came back and I said, I filled a lot of prescriptions for cardiologists, but I've never been to one.

Who am I going to go see? Well, this one guy's name popped out that I'd filled a lot of prescriptions for in local areas. I went and made an appointment with him. He got me in in two days and he said, you just bought yourself a heart cath.

I said, oh, OK. He goes in at an 80 percent blockage, a 90 percent blockage and 100 percent blockage. And the 100 percent, the good Lord, my body had come out above the blockage, come out of the artery on both sides, grown two new arteries down beside the blockage and then tied back in below the blockage. So to this day, I've got 100 percent blockage in me, but it's got two arteries going around it. But all that was done with no symptoms.

Riding a bicycle 10 miles a day, no shortness of breath, no nothing. I was 53 years old. All right. So I go see my brother. I had one sibling, brother named Jeff. He was two years younger when he was about 51. I went to see him and I said, Jeff, you need to go get a stress test done. I said I had two stents put in when I was 53. And I said, well, we had two 53 year old cousins had heart attacks on one on each side of the family. Thirty nine year old uncle had triple bypass. His 45 year old brother dropped dead of a heart attack, et cetera, et cetera.

I said, you go get a stress test. You're 51. And all these other things happened at 53 in our family. Well, IQ wise, my brother was probably genius. And he worked with a bunch of doctors in an oncology clinic. He was a radiation health physicist. He's the one that calibrated and set up treatment programs for the radiation machines and the gamma knife radiation machines. He would calibrate all that. And he worked with a bunch of doctors. And IQ wise, he probably was smarter than they were.

But sometimes he lacked in common sense. I said, so you need to go get that checked. He saw they're not going to do anything.

Check your temperature, maybe get your blood or something. He rubbed his forehead, you know, and I said, no, it's more. Plus, his wife was a nurse. Well, he never did go. And he dropped dead of a heart attack. Guess how old he was?

53. So I get word on a Sunday or Saturday afternoon that he had died. My mother was there because she spent two or three months in the winter down in Naples, Florida, and his wife was there. So I had to hurry up and find a way to get to Naples and helped tend to that. So Monroe, Louisiana, was not a good connection that on that short a notice. So I went to Jackson, Mississippi, because that's probably two hours to the airport from me, flew down there on Sunday.

My family came down in the middle of the week. And you've been listening to Doug White tell his story. And by the way, there's a movie based on his story on a wing and a prayer.

And Dennis Quaid plays Doug White when we come back. More of this remarkable story, a remarkable and rich voice from a part of our country. Oh, there just aren't enough stories about more of Doug White's story. When we continue here on Our American Stories. Lee Habib here, the host of Our American Stories. Every day on this show, we're bringing inspiring stories from across this great country, stories from our big cities and small towns.

But we truly can't do the show without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love what you hear, go to our American stories dot com and click the donate button. Give a little give a lot.

Go to our American stories dot com and give. What is Circle? First of all, it's a beautiful shape. It's consistent. A community.

It's meant to be inclusive. The globe. At Circle, we build USDC, a digital dollar that's actually dollar backed one to one. We're building a future where money will travel at the speed of the Internet for fractions of a penny.

And no one will think about it because it will just be the way we work. Circle is the place where crypto meets stability, where local businesses meet global customers and the US dollar meets USDC. Visit Circle dot com slash podcast. Inspired by Ubisoft's famous video game series Assassin's Creed, the Echoes of History podcast offers a deep and fascinating dive into history. In this season's Assassin versus Templars, these two organizations have a rich history that takes its route in the medieval era and the time of the Crusades within the Assassin's Creed universe. Hosted by Dan Snow and Matt Lewis from History Hit, each episode offers us a history of these two not so secret societies. New episodes weekly.

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Order now in the app for pickup or delivery Chipotle for real. And we continue with our American stories and Doug White's story. Let's pick up where we last left off. So we buried my brother on Good Friday. And I remember Friday afternoon being in his house with all the kin folks and all the friends, stuff, family friends. But from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon, about 1 30, I don't remember anything. Don't remember anything to this day.

That was in 2009. Somebody said, Well, you remember going out to the Japanese restaurant that night on Saturday night, don't you? I said, No, I couldn't take Easter Sunday. They all went to Sunrise Church. I went to the regular time service.

I don't remember any of that. So I knew that a King Air airplane from our home airport had been chartered to the final day of the Masters golf tournament. To the Masters final Sunday in Augusta, Georgia. So I made a call to my buddy up there, and I said, Well, after you drop those people off in Georgia, can you swing down here to Marco Island, Florida, and pick me and my family up, fly us back to Monroe? And then I'll just pay you the difference in the gasoline between a straight shot back to Monroe, and you're all looping down here because the charter people have already paid for the airplane and the pilot and all that.

So, yeah, we can do that. So they flew down there. Of course, we were going to come back to Jackson first and drop me off.

And then he would go ahead, bring the girls on back to Monroe. Joe K. Buck, C-A-B-U-K, was retired full bird colonel in the Air Force, was the pilot of the airplane. He flew down from Augusta, Georgia, and he landed and I got on the airplane.

He was going because we didn't have any return tickets from the time we went down to my brother's funeral, because we didn't know what time would be coming home or when. I said, You care if I sit up front? He said, No, sit right up here. Here.

Here's a headset. Because I said, I like looking out the window and I like to listen to the radio communication chatter. I'd only been on that King Air one time in my life before, and that was a couple months earlier. And I'd asked the pilot, not Joe, but another fellow, How do you talk on the radio? And he reached over and showed me which button to push on the yoke there, the steering wheel, if you will. So I knew which button to push.

So I got on two months later, and Joe was such a pro that he had both sets of radios already tuned in and dialed to the next frequency that we were going to need to talk to. So we take off. We head south towards Key West. He makes a 180. And we fly up through some clouds because we're getting beat up pretty good and getting kicked around. He said, I remember Joe said, It'll smooth out when we get up on top here.

We popped out on top and it did smooth out. Well, he's about when he checks in with Miami Center at 8500 feet and you can hear it on YouTube. You can hear him just run out of breath on the radio because he had his finger on the push to talk switch.

And he dies right there. We're on a 2000 foot per minute climb on autopilot and I don't have a clue. Every two and a half minutes, we're another mile higher.

So I don't know if we're going to run out of oxygen or if we're going to get to a certain height and quit flying and just stall and come out of the sky, which we would have happened. I don't know. But I do know where to push the talk button is because I'd asked the guy two months previous and I remembered. I pushed the button and Joe would set the radio frequencies up where I didn't have to try to find how to get to Miami Center because I wouldn't have had a clue and it would have been dead quiet up there. So I pushed the button and told him what was going on. And then we had an emergency and I immediately moved to the head of the head of the line. When you're in an airplane and you declare an emergency, you move to the head of the class quickly. I got to declare an emergency. My pilot is deceased. I need help up here.

I need a King Air pilot to talk to. So they start the first fellow was not helping me too bad, too much, because I just wanted to stop the climb. It was supposed to stop at ten thousand feet and level out. But evidently there was a glitch or something because we blew right through ten thousand feet. So here's eleven thousand, twelve thousand, fourteen thousand. Autopilot once again says ten thousand.

I've already busted ten thousand. I'm steady climbing. I need to stop the climb. Stay with me, Miami. Let's go.

5-9 Delta Whiskey. I'm here. Don't worry. We're trying to find a solution to that. Standby one. So they go get another controller in Miami named Lisa Grimm, who also has some piloting experience.

They bring her down and they set her down beside the first guy I was talking to. He's working all these airliners full of people because it's Easter Sunday. It's International Airport, Miami.

People coming in and flying out to visit family and going home and all that. It was busy. So while he's working five or six, seven aircrafts full of hundreds of people, she'll give him a hand signal.

So I got to work this guy. So she'd take over and say something to me for a couple of seconds, then hand it back to him. So she convinced me to disconnect Autopilot. 5-9 Delta Whiskey, disengage the Autopilot. We're going to have you hand fly the plane. So she showed me where it was at and I flipped the switch to disconnect it.

I disengaged it. I'm flying the airplane by hand. Can you find me along with the lightest runway you can, ma'am?

5-9 Delta Whiskey, roger. Well, I know all this now. I didn't know it then. But the airplane was trimmed to climb at 2,000 foot per minute. So the rudders and the ailerons and everything were set to climb. The nose was up.

Well, just because I turned off the Autopilot, none of that changes. So as soon as I clicked that Autopilot off, that nose of that King Air was sticking straight up in the air. And that was the heaviest thing I'd ever grabbed a hold of in my life.

I thought I'd grabbed a hold of a 1,000-pound gorilla. So I tried to push the yoke forward as hard as I could with my right hand. And I didn't know it at the time, but there was a little switch by my thumb, my left thumb. It was an electric trim switch. I could have just pushed it and gave myself some immediate relief.

But I didn't know anything about that. But I knew there was a trim wheel way over on the other side of the airplane. So I reached over there with my left hand. While I was with my right hand, I was shoving the yoke forward as hard as I could to keep the nose from going straight up and stalling the airplane. And I reached between the pilot's dead leg and the panel over there.

And I got one finger on the trim control wheel. And I was able to give myself a little bit of relief where I could handle the airplane. So they take me over out over the Gulf of Mexico.

I guess maybe not going to make as big of an explosion or something. So I'm going out over the Gulf of Mexico heading west. I've got a baby blue sky going into baby blue water. So I have no visual reference. I mean, it's instrument flight conditions at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. And he's wanting me to make a 180 and turn back towards land, and I know that. But I'm afraid to turn the airplane.

I'm afraid I'll upset it and flip it upside down. So what should have been a maybe a one-minute turn probably took me 10 or 12 minutes because I was all tensed up. Are you showing me in a turn? I'm not moving very good here. I know, sir, it still looks like you're southwestbound and no turn yet. The altitude and speed look good, but you're still southwestbound. Yeah, turn left to left.

Okay, hold on. So I'm out over the Gulf of Mexico. And I said, well, if I turn this autopilot back on, will that help me fly? And he said, yeah, you can turn that back on if you want to. So I reached down there on the same switch, and I flipped it to on. Well, what I didn't know was when Joe had got ready to take off, he had set the autopilot to fly due north out of South Florida, due north towards the panhandle of Florida. That hadn't changed either just because I'd turned it off.

So I'm heading due west out over the Gulf. When I turn the autopilot back on, that thing yanks around to the right and yaws to the right real hard, wanting to fly north like it was set to. And that kind of scared me. So I turned it back off real quick, and I said, no, I can't do that.

It messes up my heading. And you're listening to Doug White tell one heck of a story. The movie is on a wing and a prayer.

I see it by all means. It's the story of Doug White, and by the way, Dennis Quaid does a heck of a job playing Doug White. But this is Doug White, and you're hearing real-life audio from the tower. And my goodness, he sounds calm.

And I guess in no circumstances that's all you've got. But how he handled himself in the cockpit, it's just remarkable listening to it. My pilot is deceased, and I need a King Air pilot to talk to, he asks or commands. I need to stop the climb, he says a bit later. When we come back, more of Doug White, what happens next? Here on Our American Stories. We'll be right back.

We'll be right back. Chipotle's new chicken al pastor is fire on every level. Only available for a limited time.

Order now in the app for pickup or delivery. Chipotle, for real. And we continue with Our American Stories and Doug White's story. Let's pick up where we last left off. Well, the people in Fort Myers, which is on the west side of the state at the airport, they hear that we're coming. Miami hands them off to us, to Fort Myers. And they hear we're coming, so the Fort Myers airport gets shut down.

Nobody's coming in and nobody's leaving. Dan Favio is one of the controllers at Fort Myers. F-A-V as in Victor, I-O, Dan Favio, Fabio. He hears there's a King Air coming in, the King Air's in trouble, and he remembers that he has a good friend in Danbury, Connecticut that has a lot of King Air experience. That's where Dan used to work. His friend in Connecticut's name is Carrie, K-A-R-I, Carrie Sorensen. Dan gets on his cell phone, calls Carrie Sorensen. Carrie says, hey, buddy, what's going on?

I don't have time to chat right now, I got a King Air in trouble, I need your help. Carrie had been riding around Danbury, Connecticut that day, and he's got an old Model T or a Model A antique car, and it was a pretty day, and he's riding around with his girlfriend, Ashley. He wasn't even at the house, but he had to come back by the house for something, use the restroom or get something. And that exact moment when he's at his house is when Dan calls him. He says, what can I do for you? He said he doesn't know anything about a King Air. So Carrie runs down to his basement in Danbury, Connecticut. He's got a King Air poster of the cockpit of a King Air on the wall of his office.

So he sits down, and he's looking at the exact same thing I'm looking at. And Brian Norton is another controller in Fort Myers. His shift is over. He's leaving the tower.

It's 2 o'clock local time. He's out in the parking lot, but he's got a little bit of piloting experience, nothing as complex as a King Air, but little Cherokees and Cessna 172s and such. He's going home. His supervisor runs out of the tower, runs out in the parking lot, and gets Brian and asks him to come back in and sit down and help work us. So Brian's sitting there talking to me in the radio.

Dan Fabio is sitting beside Brian talking to Carrie Sorenson 1,200 miles away in a cell phone. So Carrie would say, tell him he needs to drop flaps when he gets ready to land, and the flap setting is right beside his left leg. So he'd tell Dan that. Dan would tell Brian that. Brian would tell it to me, and I'd say, got it. And I said, well, how fast do I need to go without stalling this airplane? He said, stand by. He asked Dan, he said, how fast do you have to go without stalling this airplane? That's Carrie. Carrie would tell him, Dan would tell Brian, and Brian would tell me. That's how they went back and forth for 20 or 25 minutes.

That's how they just thinking on their feet. I was told later that the NTSB that investigates crashes had already released a crash, a rescue, not a rescue plane, a recovery plane, maybe out of Atlanta, was in route. And they turned the airplane around later and sent them back home, and it's the first time in history that the NTSB had ever turned a recovery plane around.

So we come in. When I finally get turned around and I can see land, I'm getting a little bit more comfortable. I can see a strip of a runway out there at 10 or 12 miles.

It looks like a little one-inch strip, but now it's all going to be just depth perception and eye-hand coordination. Don't get too slow, don't get too low, and all that. So they tell me where the knob is to drop the landing gear and when to drop the landing gear and all that. Now, when I recharge these throttle here in a minute, I need to know what's indicated to go to. 9 Delta Whiskey, Roger. We'll just retard them slowly.

You can start now at your discretion, a little bit at a time. And when you get to 150 knots, I'm told you can drop the gear in the flaps. They said later that I was coming in too low. As a matter of fact, Brian told me one time on the radio, he said, you've got 12,000 feet of runway if you want to add some more power to it.

Because they say my attitude or my angle descent was too low. Well, the reason for that was, and I know all this now, I didn't know it then, those big white marks on the end of a runway are 1,000 feet down from the end. And that's what your landing point is. That's where all the black tire marks are. That's where all the airliners try to land is 1,000 feet from the end.

Well, I didn't know any of that. 9 Delta Whiskey, Roger. It looks good from here.

Good job. It ain't nowhere till it's over. My landing point, my focus was on the very first inch of concrete of that runway. That's what I was looking at, not 1,000 foot down the road. That's why my angle descent was so shallow compared to normal. When I touch down, if I ever touch down, do I just kill the throttle or what?

That's correct. When you touch down, slowly kill the throttle. So I finally got it down, and now I can taxi it off the runway. 9 Delta Whiskey, when you're ready, you can go to ground frequency 121.9. Nice work.

121.9, thank you. And I'm sitting there, and my headset's moving back and forth. So I tell the controller, the ground controller who I'm talking to now, look, can you have those airliners move, or can I turn sideways or something because their prop blast or jet blast is blowing my headset back here? He said, no, you're fine.

Just stay right where you're at. What I didn't realize, I had a double-pane insulated windshield in front of me. It wasn't the jet blast that was coming through that windshield blowing my headset.

It was my pulse beating so hard that it was actually literally moving my headset back and forth. So one of the EMTs or one of the firemen gets out in front of the King Air, and he starts giving a signal across his neck, you know, cut the engines, cut the engines. Okay, I get it, but guess what? I don't know how to cut the engines off. So I said, we just went through all this thing for 45 or 50 minutes.

Now I'm going to cut somebody's head off. So one of the airline pilots that was waiting to take off was listening to all this. He came on the radio with the controller and volunteered. He said, look, I've got a lot of time in the King Air. I can help him turn those engines off if you want me to. And he said, yeah, go ahead. So he walked me through how to turn the engines off.

I just started with the fuel, and we got the door open, and the EMTs came in and got Joe and took him off, started working on him. I remember I told you I came through those clouds on the way up because it was so bumpy. Well, when I was at altitude out over the Gulf of Mexico and I finally got turned around and heading towards land, you know, I'm 11,000, 12,000 feet high. I've got to come back down to land, obviously, and that part of the state and that part of the country is at sea level. Well, when I come back down, I did not come back down through any clouds because if I would have, I'd have been a duster because that's instrument flying conditions. You can't see inside of a cloud, so you have to do everything by instruments, which would have been, you know, way out of my league. But when I started to come back down, the clouds were not there. We'd just gone through them 30 minutes ago, and when I started to descend, they disappeared. And we're on final approach in Florida at the beach in April in the middle of the afternoon, and there's no wind, none.

As a matter of fact, Brian Norton, he says this wind is virtually calm because I asked him two or three times about the wind because being a regular wind, I mean, I wouldn't even hit the concrete. And Dan Favio is talking to Kerry up in Connecticut, and he says, they're down, buddy. I'll call you back. And he hangs up. Well, that leaves Kerry an alert up in Connecticut because when you're dealing with an airplane, somebody says they're down.

That could mean two or three different things. And we're listening to Doug White. He's just successfully landed a King Air. And by the way, his family was on the plane, and all of us listening to this kept wondering to ourselves, could we have done this? Something tells me when you're the dad and you got to bring it home, you bring it home, and something kicked in, some gear kicked in where he knew he had to do it. When we come back, more of this remarkable story, Doug White's story. The movie is on a wing and a prayer. Dennis Quaid plays Doug White. When we come back, more of the real life Doug White with the rest of this story here on Our American Stories. Music Digital currency is helping to form the base layer for a new global commerce infrastructure, and stablecoins like USDC, issued by Circle, help to bring faster payments at internet scale.

From merchants at the point of sale, to corporations that want to pay global suppliers and even employees more efficiently. Visit slash podcast to learn more. Inspired by Ubisoft's famous video game series, Assassin's Creed, the Echoes of History podcast offers a deep and fascinating dive into history. In this season's Assassin versus Templars, these two organizations have a rich history that takes its root in the medieval era and the time of the crusades within the Assassin's Creed universe. Hosted by Dan Snow and Matt Lewis from History Hit, each episode offers us a history of these two not-so-secret societies. New episodes weekly.

Listen to Echoes of History, Assassin's versus Templars on iHeart, or wherever you get your podcasts. Chipotle's new chicken al pastor is where fire meets flavor. Starting with chicken fresh off the grill, combined into a rich marinade of seared Merida peppers and ground achiote, balanced with a splash of pineapple for the right amount of heat, and finished with fresh lime and hand-cut cilantro. Chipotle's new chicken al pastor is fire on every level, only available for a limited time. Order now in the app for pickup or delivery.

Chipotle, for real. And we return to Our American Stories and to Doug White, whose story spawned the Hollywood motion picture On a Wing and a Prayer, starring Dennis Quaid. We will also be listening to Doug after receiving an Archie League Medal of Safety Award.

The Archie League Award is considered to be the highest honor in the air traffic control profession. Here's Doug picking up with a story of the chain of King Air airplane experts helping Doug control and land after his pilot unexpectedly died. And Dan Favio's talking to Carrie up in Connecticut. And he says, they're down, buddy.

I'll call you back. And he hangs up. Well, that leaves Carrie in a lurch up in Connecticut because when you're dealing with an airplane, somebody says they're down.

That could mean two or three different things. Well, when it's over with, Dan gets ready to call Carrie back, and his cell phone's dead. I don't mean he had to go charge his battery up or get a new battery. He had to get a new cell phone. But he didn't even know Carrie's phone number, and Brian Norton sitting beside him didn't even know Carrie's name. But Dan's cell phone stayed charged up just long enough for Carrie to help us get down and land safely.

And there's no wind, and the clouds disappeared. But I know who's in control of the weather, and I know who was in control of that whole event, and I know God's not done with us yet. The American people, by and large, are very resourceful people. The great majority of people in this country have a lot of individual initiative.

There are exceptions. We know who they are, because our taxpayer dollars help them be that way. But over the years, the American people have seen problems, and they've seen issues, and we've worked ourselves around them, over them. We've invented things to make our life easier and fix stuff.

We've invented things like the airplane, for instance, because it helps us get around better, and cars and telephones and televisions and whatnot, because we have initiative. But there's one thing that I've found in my lifetime that will knock down the resourcefulness of an individual quickly. It will absolutely bury individual initiative every time, and that is bureaucracy of any sort. You see, bureaucrats think they're smarter than us regular old Joes. Bureaucrats see a problem like you all do, and they have to form a committee to figure out what to do. A month down the road, the problem's still there, and they've got to form another committee to oversee the first committee. And the problem is still there, and then they've got to pass a resolution to give themselves permission to study the problem that they got there in the first place. And then they have to have quorums. It takes bureaucrats an hour and a half to watch 60 Minutes. But this bunch on Easter Sunday, these folks had a problem that they faced on that day, and they didn't form a committee to figure out what to do. They just got it done.

They didn't pass a resolution because that's the way they are. You can't train for this, people. I guarantee you in your ops manual, that sounds fancy. I assume you've got something like an ops manual. It doesn't say when King Air pilot dies. Go down to another sector, get a woman who has some piloting experience, bring her up here, sit her down beside you, and while you're working all these airliners full of hundreds of people, when she gets enough, make a signal and let her work him, and convince him to take the autopilot off. If that doesn't work, go to subsection B.

Get on a cell phone and call a buddy who lives a thousand miles from here that has King Air experience and talk to him on a cell phone. That is not there. It's individual initiative that gets it done. Those are some of the divine things that fell into place. So we fast forward to now.

Well, back it up. Four or five years ago, Brian Eggeston, E-G-E-S-T-O-N, he was a writer. He used to write for the Tyler Perry Show, but he was wanting to learn how to fly. So he took two or three hours of flying lessons, and they said, well, you don't need to fly anymore for a while. You need to learn how to talk on the radio first, and then we'll get back in the airplane. So he's in the room over there in Atlanta doing his flight training, and they put air traffic control conversation on. He's got to listen to it, listen to how the lingo is and how they talk and all that, and what he ends up listening to is the actual 45-minute recording of our incident, and that enthralled him so much that he made an effort to try to get ahold of me. Well, he went the old standard route of trying to find me. He found me through one of my kids on Facebook and said, are you the one you and your daddy and mama were on the airplane that the pilot passed away and la-di-da-di-da-di?

Yes, sir. Would you give me your dad's mailing address? So Brian sent me a real nice letter about five years ago, told me who he was, said he's a screenwriter, said he was a fledgling pilot and he was a Christian and he wanted to know if I cared if he wrote a screenplay about the event. I said, no, I don't care. And by the way, that air traffic control tape, that recording of 40-something minutes is used today and has been used for several years now in training by the FAA when they're training new controllers.

And also when they're recertified, it's training them what to do and what not to do in an emergency situation like that. So Brian and I said, yeah, that'd be fine, I don't care. So he said, would you mind if I come to your house and interview you?

And I said, no, I don't care about that either. So he loaded up, he drove to Archibald, Louisiana, in his pickup truck, and he spent about three days with us. He had his tape recorder and he'd ask me questions and sometimes he'd push record and he wouldn't say anything for two hours. And he just recorded everything.

I took in my little golf course and took him to our little church and fed him and all that, and we ended up being real close. We talked about a few things we'd like to have in the film and a few things we didn't need in the film. We all agreed with that. And he went back and got busy and six weeks or so later he sent me a script. It was called Flying by Faith was the title he put on it. And I liked it and I said, let's go with it. So he spent the last four or five years trying to sell that and he'd just get pretty close with one of the studios and the guy would retire or he'd get fired or he'd go change jobs or something, so we'd have to start all over again. As a matter of fact, MGM turned it down two or three years ago.

Well, then they got across on Roma at Downey's desk. Roma and her husband, Mark Burnett, run the faith-based section of MGM called Lightworkers and she fell in love with the script. And she went home and she told Mark, she said, you need to read this, and she said, Mark Burnett has never read a script. Can't stand to read a movie script, but he read this one and he fell in love with it and they picked it back up and they made the film as MGM even though they turned it down a couple years, a different department of MGM had turned it down a couple years previous. In the meantime, she gets a hold of Dennis Quaid. He was working on another project with her. She said, Dennis, I think you'd be perfect to play Doug White in this film. He said, you're a pilot, you're from the south, et cetera.

So he said, yeah, let me read it. So he came back and he said, I'd love to do that film. So they got Dennis Quaid on board. And in the meantime, Amazon has since bought MGM.

So Jeff Bezos and Amazon owns MGM now. And they were going to release this film last August or so, but it got moved up and I think by divine intervention it's a lot better idea anyway. And it's going to be released on Easter weekend this year under the name of On a Wing and a Prayer.

MGM changed it to the title of On a Wing and a Prayer. So it's going to be released on Good Friday, which is April the 7th, 23 this year. Because the whole incident originally took place on Easter Sunday. And the papers in South Florida called it the Easter miracle. So 14 years after the fact, we're still here.

We've got three granddaughters later. And the movie's coming out and we hope it is a home run for the studios. We hope it's a home run for the church throughout the world. And we hope it's a home run for Brian Nicholson's professional career.

I'm hoping it does real well for Amazon. Thank you for listening. And a terrific job on the production, editing and storytelling by our own Greg Hengler.

And a special thanks to Doug White for sharing his story, the movie based on this story, On a Wing and a Prayer, with Dennis Quaid playing Doug White. And my goodness, what an authentic voice and what an authentic sounding solution to a problem. And we know what he's talking about when he talks about how Americans can just, well, get things done. And we all know what bureaucracies look and feel like in the public and the private sector. And it's not pleasant. Heck, what's the theories the office about, if anything?

But how silly and goofy working in large bureaucracies can be and what they can feel like. Doug White's story here on Our American Stories. At REU Hotels and Resorts. Book today at I'm Malcolm Granville. I live way out in the country. I drive everywhere.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-12 04:12:31 / 2023-04-12 04:30:24 / 18

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