The combat experience paid off on August 10, 2000, when the motor in Tom's single engine aircraft suddenly died high over the dense forests in the semi-rural outskirts near Birmingham, Alabama. The only runway in site looked alarmingly small to Tom as his aircraft began to plummet, but with only 15 seconds to make his decision and no other options in site, Tom banked his craft--heavily loaded with the cancelled bank checks that he flies hither and yon throughout the South--sharply toward it.
After dodging nearby powerlines Tom set the nose of his plane deftly down as close to one end of the runway as he could and applied the brakes. The plane bucked, heaved, and skidded quickly off the end of the runway, into tall grass and toward dense forest. When it finally came to rest, the distance between the plane and the trees could be measured with a long tapemeasure.
A handful of astonished spectators ran up to see if Tom was alright. "That's a first," they told him. "This is a model plane runway, and it's only 300 feet long!" In order to get his plane out, they actually had to take the wings off and put it on a truck.
For a cool head under pressure, keeping the plane in one piece, and not injuring himself or anyone on the ground, the Alabama FAA awarded Tom the "Tattered Tail Award" -- the first in the state's history.
We are grateful to God that Tom, our "Aviator Extraordinaire," walked away from this one without a scratch!
Click here for a larger copy of the FAA's "Tattered Tail Award."