It shook the ground like a sudden clap of thunder. Stunned, we stood silently near our car looking around for a few minutes -- before realizing the sound came from nearby Fairchild Air Force Base.
It was Friday, June 24, 1994, and Lieutenant Colonel Bud Holland had just crashed a B-52 Stratofortress bomber, killing himself and three crew members.
Holland was a skilled pilot but with a long history of pushing aircraft past their limits. There had been too many past complaints about Holland's harum-scarum behavior, but to no avail.
Within minutes, multiple sirens filled the air with an eerie wailing.
We learned later that the pilot had banked left into a 360-degree turn around Fairchild's control tower at an altitude of 250 feet -- and every rivet screaming. With a wingspan of 185 feet, the maneuver was too much for the massive aircraft at a 90-degree angle to maintain air speed. It slammed into the tarmac in a horrifying fireball.
Investigators noted that if the B-52 had maintained an air speed of 147 knots, Holland might have pulled it off. He might have escaped yet again. But not on that day. The plane's airspeed was only 145 knots.
Anyone who has a pulse has made a dumb decision or two. I've lived and learned from more than a few myself.
I thought about that 1994 crash as I was reading through the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes a few days ago. It occurred to me that there may be some really bad decisions we can rebound from (thank God). But there are other choices that will put us into an irreversible dive ending in a fireball.
King Solomon comes to mind.
He started out in life exceptionally well. He had it all and then some. But somewhere along his life flight path, he made some careless decisions. He thought it would be an interesting experiment to fulfill every whim, desire and craving of his natural appetite. Because he could do it, he did. And those choices changed his destiny.