At this point his senses began to take stock of the situation. He realized the family behind the cockpit were screaming. The air reeked of vomit. He had no other choice but to attempt another landing. He didn't have fuel to fly anywhere else.
My mistake, let me explain the background to this story.
My father's dream job had always been a pilot. He worked hard. I remember his sacrifice to study, accrue flight hours, and work (sometimes multiple jobs). His sacrifice as a father and provider was a strong example for me.
My father's first airline job was for a company in Alaska called Cape Smythe. He was stationed out of Barrow, Alaska. He was a bush pilot, spending most of his time flying north of the Arctic Circle.
In his first weeks flying there he was required to pick up a family in another village. Leaving Barrow the weather and forecast were clear. Upon returning with his passengers fog had moved in covering half the runway.
To avoid the fog he planned to make two quick ninety degree turns and land coming from the ocean end of the runway. Being on approach he made his first turn with an altitude of 300 ft and mistakenly penetrated the fog bank. Knowing his altitude was low he put the plane into a climb to escape the fog. Having no visibility required use of his instruments, something he had only practiced on simulators years before.
Unbeknownst to my father the air frame was bent and out of trim. This makes it so that the pilot has to constantly force the plane into the desired flight pattern. Imagine if you lost power steering in your car and you had to hold the wheel straight or it would veer off the road. The entire time his hands were a white-knuckled-death-grip on the controls to fight these deficiencies.
In reality his climb was too steep with a slight turn, results of unfamiliarity with instruments and the out of trim air craft. He finally realized when his airspeed dropped too quickly. He put the nose down but not the throttle, he was now in a high speed dive. He pulled up again, this time too much, the plane stalled. This is when an aircraft is flying upwards too steeply, the plane slows down and falls back to the ground. His stall lead to a downward spin.
To exit a downward spin the pilot has to pull hard on the controls in the opposite direction of the spin. With no visibility, spinning instruments, and the physical forces of the careening aircraft he had no way of knowing which way to turn. If he chose the wrong turn it would aggravate the spin. In this low altitude that mistake guarantee collision with the ground.
He chose left as his exit direction. He pulled hard. It was correct, he was able to recover from the dive. He added power and began to climb. Glancing at the altimeter he was just above zero, sea level. Barrow, and the runway, sit at 49 feet above sea level. Had he attempted the approach on the inland side I would have been raised without a father.
He was able to come around for another approach and land. Hands and feet shaking uncontrollably he walked away from the most terrifying experience of his life.
Being chronically ill wears on our entire system, including our minds. We develop weaknesses that cause downward spirals in our lives.
During my initial months of recovery I was trying to apply meditation. I began to understand the concepts, essentially helping your mind free itself from negative thoughts. I had no idea if it would help.
Often throughout the years of schizophrenia I would be pushed into a downward spiral. Stressful situations would initiate this and I would continually circle lower and lower until I was incapacitated by voices accosting me to harm myself or others. The influx of these voices, their malicious intent, and the relentless onslaught forced me to simply survive. My mind would retreat to a semiconscious state to ride it out.
This was a hardship on myself and my relationships. This was significantly hard on my marriage. When we had to address issues the stress would push me into a downward spiral.
One of these times I felt the downward spiral begin, I was so determined to beat it. In the very moment of distress I found my exit direction. I was looking across the kitchen at my son's alphabet magnets on the fridge. I focused my mind on the first letter. I thought of that letter. Of the sound it made as I spoke it. The voices interrupted, they began to pull me back into the spiral, I calmly brought my mind to the next letter. I thought of that letter and nothing else. I moved on the to the next letter and so on. Many more attempts were made to return me to that downward spiral. I calmly returned to my meditation each time.
When I had finished the alphabet I had a clear mind. I was able to address the stressful issue. It was done it was resolved. In all the years of my illness I had never exited this downward spiral.
This is the power of meditation.