3 Dynamics that Determine Whether You Fly or Crash

Somewhere over the rainbow

Somewhere over the rainbow

I have been a pilot for 30 years. To earn my pilot’s license and soar over the rainbow, I had to learn what makes an airplane fly and what can bring it crashing to the ground. There are three dynamics that affect the flight of an airplane: thrust, lift and drag.

The first two are absolutely necessary to make an airplane fly. The third is always present and if not carefully controlled it can keep a plane from ever becoming airborne and even bring an airplane down. The same dynamics can determine whether you fly or crash in life!

In either a jet or a prop plane, an engine spins the blades of a propeller and creates THRUST. You can feel that thrust as an airliner accelerates for takes off. The engine has to generate enough thrust to move a plane across the ground and create lift over the wings. Without thrust an airplane has the same potential to fly as a Popsicle.

An airplane wing is designed to create LIFT. As thrust moves the airplane forward, air flows over the top of the wing and creates a vacuum. The differential in air pressure on the top of the wind and below the wing generates lift powerful enough to allow aircraft that weigh tons to fly.

What a drag!

What a drag!

The instant an airplane begins to move it induces DRAG. Every exposed surface on the airplane fights movement and tries to keep the airplane from flying. The weight of the airplane including passengers laden with Big Macs and thousands of pounds of fuel contributes to drag.

The goal of those who design airplanes is to provide enough thrust, and lift, to overcome drag.

Think about it! I believe you were designed to fly! I don’t know very many people who are satisfied just to trundle along the ground in life when it is possible to soar, to live fully alive. So here are some questions to ask ourselves:

Do I have enough THRUST?

  • What is the source of power/thrust that drives my life?
  • Is it sufficient enough to get me moving off the ground?
  • Is it strong enough to overcome the drag that can bring me down?

Am I creating LIFT ?

  • Where do I get my lift?
  • What do I include in my life that will help my spirit soar?
  • Do I design my life to lighten up and live?
  • Do my attitudes, my relationships, my activities create lift or drag me down?

Am I eliminating DRAG?

  • What habits, mind sets, relationships, create drag in my life?
  • What am I doing to minimize those things or eradicate them from my life?
"But they that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint"  (Isaiah 40:31).

“But they that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

I thank God for almost 40 years experiencing the joy of flight!

[reminder]I would love to hear your answers to some of these questions. I am sure that your story will help me and others learn to fly.[/reminder]


  1. Ken: It’s interesting to me that you say three “dynamics” that affect flying: thrust, lift and drag…but then you ask, “Am I eliminating DRAG?” I think the Scriptures teach that “drag” has a lot to do with helping to build our spiritual muscles. It is in our testing and trials that our faith is proved. So I’m not sure we want to “eliminate” drag as much as we want to make sure our THRUST/power source is in the Creator of power who LIFTS us up and holds us and helps us not only deal with the drag, but actually works it to good in our lives! Wonder how planes would fly without DRAG…is it a stabilizer? I’m not a pilot so I don’t know. But I do know that you encourage me often and I thank you for being one who LIFTS my days!

    1. Someonesgrandma, The kind of drag I am talking about is not the difficult circumstances that come our way. Not the trials of life. Rather, it is the kind spoken of in Hebrews where the author instructs us to “Throw off all that hinders and the sin that so easily besets us.” Trials purify us. Drag keeps us from flying. Thank you for giving me the chance to clarify.

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