The phone woke me up really early. Three guys just had to get to Dominica right now. Honestly, I did not want to take the flight. I had been up way too late last night and the only plane I had on Antigua at the moment was a pokey little Skyhawk. These guys would not be deterred. They offered me $25,000 to fly them to Dominica. "A fool and his money…" I agreed, pulled myself together, and caught a taxi out to the airfield.
Three young men were waiting for me at the plane. They were all dressed alike: black slacks, white shirt, black tie. Oh great, Mormons.
"You guys haven’t done anything illegal like recently robbing a bank or something have you?" They assured me that they hadn’t broken any laws, so we loaded them into the bird and fired her up.
"Tower, November 3-9 Echo Golf, Clearance to Canfield."
"November 3-9 Echo Gold, Cleared to Canfield."
I climbed the C172 to 5,000 feet, which takes a while, but the little bird is delightfully steady in the thermals. The weather was fairly decent with a few spots of turbulence but no serious storms. The sun rose as I climbed.
Despite my best efforts, I picked up that they were on their "mission" and they were on their way to Dominica to convert the "natives" to their religion. I thought, Yeah, the Santaria guys are going to love this.
I really hoped they’d forget that I was in the plane, but eventually the inevitable happened. The kid in the copilot seat said, "Sir, have you heard the Good News of Jesus Christ?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I have. Nice guy meets terrible end, rises from the dead and freaks everybody out. Got it."
"Oh, but there is so much more than that," said the young man. "Have you heard of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints?"
"You mean the guys who wear funny underwear? Yeah, I have."
"We wear our prayer garments as a sign of our devotion."
TMI. "You know, I have been feeling kind of suicidal lately, and considering that I have my hands of the yoke of this plane, if I were you, I wouldn’t want to say anything that might push me over the edge, like this religious talk."
"God will protect us," he said.
I turned to him and looked him in the eyes, and in my best Jack Nicholson said, "Well, would you like to meet Him?"
"Well, uh… yes, but… maybe not right now."
"Good. There might be some hope for you yet. Now, shut the hell up."
"Yes, sir." The rest of the flight was uneventful. I am sure my young charges spent the rest of the flight praying for my lost soul. ATC brought us in over the mountains which is always fun. I guess the winds were too strong to approach from the sea.