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I Survived the Crash of Flight 193

The dramatic true story of Dale and the terrifying experience of his Boeing 727 crash-landing into the Pensacola Bay.

I Survived the Crash of Flight 193.

Dale’s Story

My horrifying flight began on May 8, 1978, as I was traveling to Pensacola to meet friends for a semi-business/pleasure trip. I was disappointed that my wife had decided at the last minute not to accompany me. I recall her saying “Honey, I just can’t go. That’s all there is to it. Someone has to stay with the kids.”

National Airlines Flight 193 was approaching the Pensacola Airport from the east end of Runway 25. Because of heavy fog, an eastern airlines flight had been diverted to Atlanta just ahead of us. As our Boeing 727 approached the runway, our stewards had just said, “Put your seat in an upright position.” Within that moment, the plane hit the water with a tremendous thud. The crash ripped me out of my seat and flung me into the wall of the first-class section. Semi-Conscious, I landed in ankle deep water.

The next minutes were frightening as lights went out and the captain and crew informed us that we had crashed. We were told to get out our life jackets from under our seats. Bay water was rushing in upon us, jet fuel was everywhere., and we were in total darkness. People were hysterical, hurt, and in shock. I had whiplash, but because of being a lifeguard, I knew I had to help others who couldn’t swim. People were screaming, “Oh God, save me!” “Help me!” “I can’t swim!” Many people did not think to inflate their life jackets. I put mine on and made my way out of the plane in chest-high water, helping others along the way.


I jumped into the pitch-black Florida water, and those without life jackets hung onto me. Then I heard a voice saying, “Swim this way! Swim to the barge!” It was as if the Lord had provided a way of escape from this horrible accident. A tugboat and a barge, both lost in the fog, were within 200 yards of the plane crash. The captain of the boat later said, “I don’t know what I was doing there,” but I knew what he was doing there. The Lord put him there. After swimming to the barge, two men hoisted me up along with the others. Then someone held my legs as I reached down over the side of the barge, helping others to safety. We threw ropes to help people reach the barge. One lady had her life vest on but was slowly drifting out to sea. I called out to her telling her to doggy-paddle and she finally made it over to us and was rescued. Eventually the barge was maneuvered closer to the plane where we placed a plank from the barge to the aircraft. People then crawled across the “bridge” to safety. Those who were injured were carried on planks for stretchers.


We had no help from the shore for over 2 hours. A plane and some boats came but could not see us for the fog. Finally, the Coast Guard and other boats came and took us to shore. I was thankful that I had survived the plane crash. Three others were not so fortunate. It wasn’t “Lady luck” as the newspapers reported, but the Lord Jesus Christ who had been merciful to us. For instance, no one was sitting in the tail section which was ripped off. I had been sitting there but moved to another seat earlier. Even though we crashed four miles from shore, we settled on an oyster bed in water only thirteen feet deep. If the plane had crashed fifty feet further away, it would have sunk in very deep water. Having a tugboat and a barge so close to the crash site was certainly miraculous.


As I think about that eventful night, several spiritual thoughts came to mind. Each person had a life vest, but many did not know how to use them. The Lord Jesus Christ came to seek and to save those who are lost, yet people do not bother to find out how they can have eternal life. The bible says, “For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.” Romans 3:23. Sin is what keeps us from heaven. However, the Bible says, “For the wage of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The Lord paid our penalty by dying on the cross. We do not have to pay for His free gift of salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 states, “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Another spiritual point is that in order to be rescued, I had to step out in faith and jump into the black waters of the bay. When a person asks Jesus to be his personal Savior, he must exercise faith that the Lord will save him for all eternity. According to the scriptures, “As many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the son of God, even to them that believe on his name.” John 1:12


The barge became my salvation from drowning just as the Lord Jesus, Gods son, became my personal savior when I received Him into my heart and life. When a bridge was made from the barge to the plane, it reminded me how Jesus bridged the gap between God and man by giving His life for us. Romans 5:8 tells us that, “God commended His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Finally, many go through the emotions of Christianity, but have never invited Jesus into their heart. They miss the mark just as my plane missed the runway by four short miles. Don’t you miss the mark! Pray this prayer in faith and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


We invite you to experience what God can do for you! Jesus died on the cross for you so that you could spend eternity with Him. He knows your every care and problem. “Come onto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Pray this prayer with me right now. “Lord, I know I’m a sinner and need your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus died for my sins. I invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust you as my Lord and Savior. In Jesus name, Amen.”

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