Several years ago, my son Rob told me that it was his favorite Bible story. I thought back and remembered when I told it for the first time, the story in 1 Samuel 30. David’s actions were a superhuman exploit that would delight any boy and even impress a modern soldier. But the beginning of the story is different. It’s not what you expect from an elite group of what might be the toughest warriors in history, even compared to today’s special forces. In that day and age, warriors were allowed to cry. The were unashamed and wept openly. …

There’s something to the sound.
The static breaks. The voices clipped.
Each phrase equipped
With meter, syntax, brevity.
Staccato voices speak, repeat.
A voice says, “Cleared to land.”
The words, a kind of poetry.

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Readings list are in vogue. I found one tonight written many years ago by Richard Bach, a gifted aviation writer, and I don’t think he will mind if I share it here.

No Echo in the Sky, Harold Penrose
The Last Enemy, Richard Hillary (also published under the title Falling Through Space)
England is my Village, FltLt James Liewellen Rhys
A Sky of My Own, Molly Bernheim
Over to You, Roald Dahl
Dot Lemon, One-One
Alone over the Tasman Sea, Sir Francis Chicester
The Airman’s World, Gill Robb Wilson
The Spirit of St. Louis, Charles Lindbergh
North to the Orient, Anne Morrow Lindbergh
The Rainbow and the Rose, Nevil Shute
Round the Bend, Nevil Shute
Pastoral, Nevil Shute
Song of the Sky, Guy Murchie
Blaze of Noon, Ernest K. Gann
Fate is the Hunter, Ernest K. …

For all the things I’ve seen in flight:
The brilliant sky,
The emerald sea,
The darkest night.

The beauty of this world cannot
Compare to this one father’s thought:
Her sparkling eye,
Her laughing smile,
The way she blows a kiss goodnight.

My daughter.

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Where will you go?

Curriculum vitae is Latin for “course of one’s life,” and I can think of nothing more inspiring than the analogy of life as a map marked with a course line, except perhaps the terrain one encounters along that journey. These are some of the landmarks I remember from mine.


I believe that words are a matter of life and death, though I rarely meet that threshold in my own use of words, whether I’m reading, writing, or speaking, as summarized here.

Often I find myself privileged to review books written by friends, colleagues, or complete strangers, as documented in this incomplete list. …

I can see his face in my mind’s eye, but the details are blurry, no longer in focus.

I don’t know his name.

He had no uniform. A pair of jeans and a polo shirt, a leather shoulder harness, and a pair of shoes that seemed inappropriate — for the condition of the street outside, for the work I expected him to be able, ready, to do — somehow out of harmony with the rest of the outfit — it all flashes across my mind like the images on the tv screen beside him. …

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the write stuff

Words have the power of life and death. With a single word, you can save the lives of the aircrew or prevent an airplane crash: “Abort!” A word like that normally gets repeated — “Abort! Abort! Abort!” — but it only needs to be heard once.

But it needs to be heard.

Sometimes hearing a word is not enough. For example, there has been a place on almost every flight test card to record observations made in the heat of the moment, a comment about air quality, workload, or whatever else seems relevant. …

Thoughts on Preparing for War

The profession of arms exacts a penalty when we allow apathy or complacency to dull our knowledge and skills. Recently, Joe Byerly described it this way:

“Imagine if someone told you that a year from today, you would be required to take a test in which every wrong answer resulted in the loss of a human life. How would you approach studying for the test?”

Byerly’s ideas resonated deeply with a diverse audience. Initiative in professional development is critical, but self-study is not enough. Self-study adds knowledge, but we must add skill and wisdom, qualities that are much harder to develop. …

Warren, W. Lee, M.D. No Place to Hide: A Brain Surgeon’s Long Journey Home from the Iraq War. Zondervan Press, 2014. 352. Hardcover.

From the first pages of No Place to Hide, I found myself transported back to Iraq. I walked between the rows of sandbags and around the puddles of filth as I made my way through long rows of modular housing units. Eventually I popped out near the courtyard fence, the one that separated the pool area from the palace itself. I shuffled my feet across the wet patio and made my way to the fifty-five gallon drum filled with concrete, mounted at an angle, and pointed the barrel of my empty nine millimeter Beretta pistol into the three inch opening. I pulled back the slide, checked the empty chamber for the one hundredth time, and let it spring back into position. …


Mark Jones Jr.

saved, husband, father, mathematician, test pilot, curator of @FlightTestFact

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