On June 26, 2007, while on a training exercise off the Oregon coast, Major Gregory D. Young of the Air National Guard flew his F-15A fighter into the Pacific Ocean. The $32 million aircraft was destroyed and the pilot killed. There was no distress call, no attempt to eject, and no apparent aircraft malfunction. Young, 34, had 2,300 hours of flight time, more than 750 hours of it in F-15s.
As investigators sifted through the wreckage—what little was left—colleagues, family, and friends were left to wonder: What caused Young to guide his airplane right into the ocean at more than 600 mph? Though a highly trained pilot, Young experienced unrecognized spatial disorientation. In other words, he thought he knew where he was, but he had no idea he flying down, instead of up.
People say: “this what I believe.” The follow up question should be: “Is your belief grounded in reality?”
You can believe you can charge on your credit card and not worry about paying it back. Is that belief grounded in reality?
You can believe you can drive as fast as you want. Is that belief grounded in reality?
You can believe you will be happy if you get the house, or the car, or the boat, or the job, or the spouse you want. Is that belief grounded in reality?
You can believe you decide the requirements for going to heaven. Is that belief grounded in reality?
You can believe you define for God what is fair, what you deserve, what is justifiable behavior. Is that belief grounded in reality?
Maybe this is why people fly their lives into the ground. They have unrecognized spiritual spatial disorientation. They believe something, maybe with all their heart. But their belief does not change reality.
Tom Lecompte, “The Disorient Express,” Air and Space Magazine, April 2008.