Two boys are trapped on an ice floe on the Niagara River off Grand Island. No one can reach them!”
Don and Jack, riding in their traffic-reporter helicopter above Buffalo, New York, heard the report crackle over their radio.
Wheeling the helicopter around, Don charged toward Grand Island. Soon they saw the river gleaming in the evening dusk.
“There they are,” shouted Jack.
On a small white patch in the middle of the river, two boys stood stabbing at the water with branches. The swirling water ahead would soon swallow them up in the rapids just above Niagara Falls.
Drawing on all his years of training, practice, and dedication to helicopter flying, Don tried to think of a way to save the boys below them.
Let the boys grab the skids? No, the weight would drag the copter into the water. Throw a rope? They had no rope.
“Oh, God, help us!” he prayed. “There must be a way.”
Then Don saw the water ruffling from the downwash of the blades. That’s the cushion of air that builds up between the ground and the blades and surges out sideways.
He had an idea. Would it work?
Don’s right hand gripped the cyclic stick, which moves the helicopter sideways and forward. His left hand held the other stick, which changes the rotor blades’ pitch to lift or lower the aircraft. With both feet he worked pedals to swing the tail for changing direction.
It was a little like patting his head with one hand and rubbing his stomach with the other.
Years of experience paid off as Don riveted his eyes and mind on this one chance of saving the boys. Wind wobbled the copter, but he made the necessary adjustments, keeping it steady as the wind from the blades slowly pushed the ice floe over to the bank.
As the copter shot back up into the air and the boys jumped off the ice, Don felt the thrill of seeing them safe.
He realized the reward of accomplishing a good thing, of reaching an almost impossible goal. God had shown him how to reach it by using all the skills he had patiently learned.
Illustrated by Ralph Butler