I was asked, by a parishioner, if I would come and bless a seaplane that he uses to train pilots for water landings. He said that after the prayers he wanted to take me on a brief flight and that I should wear clothes that could get wet. I am always up for an adventure but, clothes that can get wet? I was at Falcon Field (a small plane airport in Mesa) at 7 in the morning. I did the prayers for the blessing of an airplane – really cool prayer service that I will include below. And yes, I know it is a little self-serving to bless the plane before takeoff.
After the plane blessing, Tom, my parishioner, gave me a safety briefing that could make a grown man cry. He first asked me if I could swim. I said, “yes” but was thinking, “should I call my wife and kids and tell them I love them, one last time? He said that if we crash on water we would both be injured and upside down. Sea planes flip over because the engine sits on top. Oh, and because of the water pressure the doors would not open until the cabin had completely filled with water and that I was to remain calm while it filled up. Right! And even though I would be wearing an inflatable life vest I was not to pull the cord while injured and upside down because it would inflate and trap me in the sinking plane. The good news was that there were bottles of “spare air.” I was to retrieve mine from behind his seat. However, the oxygen would not automatically flow and there was no valve. I was to remember to blow hard into the mouth piece in order to start the flow of oxygen…. all while injured and upside down and sinking in the cold, wet, dark, broken plane and not pulling the rip chord on my life vest….
Did I mention that we had two beautiful water landings and take offs? Oh, did I also forget to mention that I threw up on the flight home? Tom is an ace but it was hot and there was turbulence. We were both apologetic but I am pretty sure throwing up was my fault and not his… I was very glad that he added that trash bag to our gear at last minute.
The prayer begins in the usual way with the Trisagion Prayers and then we read Psalm 139:
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. O LORD, thou hast searched me and known me! Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up; thou discernest my thoughts from afar. Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou dost beset me behind and before, and layest thy hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in hell, thou art there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Let only darkness cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to thee, the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with thee. For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! Thou knowest me right well; my frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth. Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are thy thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. When I awake, I am still with thee. O that thou wouldst slay the wicked, O God, and that men of blood would depart from me, men who maliciously defy thee, who lift themselves up against thee for evil! Do I not hate them that hate thee, O LORD? And do I not loathe them that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139
And then this prayer:
O Lord God, Who is borne on the cherubim; Who took Elijah up to heaven in a fiery chariot; Who, by your angels, carried Habakkuk and Philip the Deacon through the air, and Who gathered the Apostles at the Dormition of Your Mother: As the same Lord, sanctify this boat of the air, and bless those traveling in it, preserving them from all evil. For You alone are all-powerful, and to You we ascribe glory; to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.