Like the founder of the Rapture Ready website Todd Strandberg, I also served in the United States Air Force. My service career lasted a total of 11 years – two Active Duty stints and a few years of Reserve time – before it concluded in 1987 when the Good Lord blessed me with a long desired airline position. It was an honor to serve and the military provided excellent training, as well as the opportunity to do a lot of travelling. I finished my Air Force years as a flight engineer on the C-141 Starlifter cargo transport aircraft for about 5 years, then finally a couple of years as an engineer on the KC-10 Extender in-flight refueling aircraft.
In order to qualify for a position as a flight engineer in the Air Force, one had to have a three year maintenance background. That was achieved during my first enlistment, when I was trained and served as an Aircraft Maintenance Specialist, or a fancy way of saying that I was a flight line crew chief. My primary aircraft was the F-4 Phantom fighter, and I received extensive training on the aircraft’s various systems at Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls Texas in 1976.
One of the systems on that aircraft that we received training on was the Martin-Baker ejection seat. The ejection seat is a means for the flight crew to rapidly egress from the aircraft in case of an emergency, such as the fighter being shot up by the enemy and no longer flyable. The F-4 had a very powerful rocket under the seat bucket that was capable of launching the crewmember up a couple hundred feet, in order to safely eject away from the disabled aircraft and not be hit by the plane during the egress. It was an extremely dangerous piece of equipment to work around by the ground crews and we had to be thoroughly knowledgeable on its inner workings and how to disarm it to safely work in the cockpit during servicing.
They couldn’t stress enough the danger factor of this system during training. We had to view a couple of training films on the seat that were akin to the ones I had watched back in my sophomore year of high school during driver’s education (I think one of those was called Red Asphalt or Blood On The Highway or some such thing, where you sarcastically thought to yourself after watching these gory films on the dangers of driving improperly: ‘Man…I can’t WAIT to get out there on the highway and start driving!’). Those videos on the ejection seat were very effective and really impressed upon us the inherent dangers of working around that piece of equipment.. I never felt totally comfortable climbing into that cockpit, knowing that rocket was there just beneath the seat. There were seven safety pins that we would install into that seat to disarm it on the ground, but even then…the thing still scared me.
As a crew chief, after we serviced the aircraft and were preparing it for flight, we would remove six of the pins and place them in a pouch (all seven pins were tied together by a single lanyard); help the pilot strap into his seat; the pilot would then remove the final pin from the face curtain part of the seat (located just to the top and aft of his head); place it in the pouch and put the pouch somewhere in the cockpit. Once that final pin was removed, the seat was armed again and ready to fire if need be. Again, I never felt completely at ease working in the cockpit, even with that thing pinned. I’m sure a lot of my fellow crew chiefs felt the same way.
To make matters worse and to instill an even greater uneasiness in my mind about the system, just a couple of months before I arrived at my first base of assignment Seymour-Johnson AFB in Goldsboro, NC, a guy who worked in the Egress Shop who’s specialty was repairing and servicing those seats had come back from a TDY (temporary duty) overseas, only to find out his wife was having an affair. He climbed into an F-4 cockpit parked in a hangar and “punched” himself out of the aircraft into the hangar’s rafters, killing himself. That bit of news was just what I needed to hear before I started to work on those aircraft out on the flight line.
After a few months of flight line operations, the fear factor decreased somewhat but I was always overly cautious when climbing into the cockpit. I was on a TDY out at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas for three months and one afternoon, we had to tow an F-4 from the flight line to the wash rack. I was sitting in the front seat and had a “newbie” fresh out of maintenance school riding in the back seat. And of course, with all new guys, there had to be a prank pulled to welcome them into the group. We both had headsets on and were in contact with the tow truck driver, and our function was to guard the brakes of the aircraft during towing in case there was a malfunction with the tug. In the front seat of the cockpit, there was a circular red light labeled “EJECT” and was used to signal to the back seat occupant (who had a rectangular red light that was also labeled “EJECT” at the top of his instrument panel at eye level) to eject from the aircraft, in case the intercom system became unusable and the aircraft was no longer safe to fly. Pushing that button from the front seat would not fire any system but would flash “EJECT” to the guy in the rear the same number of times that it was depressed.
I don’t remember that button being discussed while in training and the temptation to use it on the newly trained crew chief could not be resisted. As we started the towing process, I began to repeatedly press the light and sent a flashing “Eject” signal to this new guy in the rear. With all those warnings about the seat and the point driven home by those training videos still fresh in his mind, his reaction was predictable. All I heard in the headset was “Hey! Hey! The seat is going to go!”, then I turned back to see him scrambling out of the cockpit, leap onto the wing, jump to the ground and away from the aircraft. I think he made a faster egress out of the aircraft on his own than he would have had he actually used the equipment!
The Martin-Baker ejection seats, as well as others installed in fighter aircraft, proved to be an invaluable life saving system that saved the lives of many airmen who suddenly found themselves in an uncontrollable aircraft.
Another type of ejection is soon to take place; a much more dynamic form of evacuation.
In the military, as an enlisted man, I became a non-commissioned officer achieving the rank of Technical Sergeant. In the battle for souls, as a follower of Jesus Christ, we become commissioned officers and our marching orders from our Commanding Officer – Jesus Christ – are:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” – Matthew 28:19, 20
Our mobility bags have been packed, we have been arrayed in our battle fatigues and we have crossed behind enemy lines in the effort to set free the captives of sin and to further the population of the Kingdom of God. The enemy has waged a merciless war in his effort to thwart our commission and a final seven year showdown looms on the horizon.
The signs are all around us indicating the soon onset of the Tribulation period: once sound committed churches to Our Lord are fleeing sound doctrine and are falling away into apostasy; the frequency and intensity of earthquakes seem to be on the rise, as well as the reawakening of long dormant volcanoes; worldwide economies are on the brink of catastrophe and world leaders appear to be clueless on how to remedy the situation; and of course, probably the biggest indicator of the nearness of the Tribulation period, is the nation of Israel and how war against them looks inevitable on a variety of fronts. All the nations that were prophesied to come up against the Jewish nation in the end times have been maneuvered into place.
If the indicators abound that show us that we are on the doorstep of that final seven year Tribulation period, the snatching away of the Body of Christ is even closer. These “birth pangs” that we are now witnessing are precursors of what lies ahead during that time; the signs point to its nearness. The Rapture of the Church is a sign-less event and is imminent; it could happen at any moment.
The Bible tells us:
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws nigh.” – Luke 21:28
With the Church Age or Age of Grace rapidly drawing to a close, Christ’s ambassadors to the world will soon be recalled, and then the man of sin will be revealed – the antichrist (II Thessalonians 2:3).
At any moment, the canopy of Heaven will open and the Body of Christ will soon be snatched out of here. Prepare to eject! Make sure you are trusting in the finished work of Christ on the cross and avoid having to go through the increasingly difficult days that will transpire once entering into the Tribulation.
“Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” – John 14:6
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12
All the Lord’s ground troops out in the fields of operation – in their mission to reach the far corners of the globe with the good news of the Gospel that Jesus Christ saves – are awaiting their soon extraction from behind enemy lines.
We’ll soon be returning to home base. Pass the word, warn the others. And wait for the signal…