On April 13th, 1966, Boeing gave the first details of a gigantic airliner that would cost 70 million dollars and captivate the jet age world. Made up of 4 1/2 million parts, including 135 miles of wiring, she was the experienced pilot’s dream. Her take-off weight was as high as 418 tons, yet she could cruise at 601 miles per hour at 45,000 feet! Her mammoth tanks held 53,985 gallons of fuel, enabling her to fly 6,000 miles nonstop. Seven of these 747 SR Supejets were ordered by Japan Air Lines in 1972.
On Monday, August 12, 1985, at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, the announcement was made that Flight 123 was ready, and people began to board. Boeing 747’s are an impressive sight at close range. Their wing span is over 195 feet, a greater distance than the Wright Brother’s first flight. Their length is over 231 feet and the tip of their tail towers 64 feet above the ground. If anyone would feel safe in a plane it would be the passengers on the 747. The passengers were expressing faith in the pilot and plane to take them to their desired destination.
With four tremendous engines producing 50,000 pounds of thrust each, the “Queen of the Sky” in a matter of seconds was airborne with 524 souls aboard. The time was 6:12 P.M. Some peered out the windows watching their native land recede, not realizing that they would never walk on its soil again.
Thirteen minutes after take-off, Captain Takahama radioed for instructions because something had gone wrong. Pressurized cabin air had rushed through a fault into the tail fin and was destroying it. At 6:46 P.M. he radioed, “I am experiencing unreliable control of the plane.” He was told that Haneda Airport had been cleared for emergency landing, but there was no reply.
Hundreds, that fateful day, had put their faith in the 747, but instead of taking them to Osaka, 250 miles away, she took them to eternity from the north side of Mount Ogura. Wildly pitching and yawing from side to side, the final plunge came, with faith crushed and all hope gone forever. The time was 6:57 P.M. Five hundred and twenty souls perished.
Is there not a lesson in this for us? As we think of our flight through time, is there not a final destination? All of us would rather be in heaven than in hell for eternity, but if my sins deserve eternal punishment in hell (Psalm 9:17), how then can they be put away, so that when my time comes to depart, I will wing my way to heaven instead of plunging down into hell? Many say, “Have faith!” But a question arises, faith in what?
Well, there are hundreds of different things people place their faith in to take them to heaven, but the fact remains, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Faith in Christ alone can save you.
Many years ago, I saw that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15) and that by shedding His blood at Calvary He could cleanse me from my sin (1 John 1:7). I trusted Him, and now the peace of God is mine. Why not trust Him now?