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Scots in Argentina
Flying the South Atlantic


(Notes of an address to boys and girls in St. Andrew’s).

Mr. J. A. Mollison, a Glasgow Scot, flew alone in February 1933 in a small aeroplane from Dakar in the North West of Africa to Natal in the North East of South America. This journey across the South Atlantic Ocean was one of about 1800 miles, and he did it in a little over 17 hours. Which means that perhaps, some day, you could leave B. A. on a Thursday morning and be in London on Saturday morning, spend the week-end there, and leave on Monday morning and be back in B. A. on Wednesday morning. Home would be very near then. The Scottish Settlers in 1925 took 78 days to come one way— from Leith to Buenos Aires.

Everybody has been shaking Mr. Mollison’s hand and congratulating him on his lone venture. When I heard him tell the story of how he did it, I thought how easy it was for us all to think of and to talk about the success of the flight, and how difficult to realise all the things that Mr. Mollison had to do and to think about, before this success was possible. And very few people ever heard about all these things, done quietly — done "behind the scenes", like all the best work in the world. What were some of these things?

(1) Hard careful work. — The work of all the different men who made the different parts of the aeroplane — work to be done so carefully — one little bit carelessly made might have meant disaster and death.

(2) Testing the work. — Mr. Mollison would have to test the machine, not once but many times, and so find out the parts that didn’t fit well or work perfectly.

(3) Forethought. — How many things to think about and learn about beforehand! How much petrol would he need? What were the prevailing Winds? Were there stormy parts to fly through (although an aeroplane can often fly round a storm)? Could he keep his course and pass over two small islands—the only land he would see? "Being a Scot," said Mr. Mollison, "I made pretty careful preparations."

(4) Sacrifice. — One of the great dangers in flying long distances is that the pilot should fall asleep. Now eating makes one sleepy. Mr. Mollison can eat nothing on a long journey, and he finds he must eat nothing for several hours before the journey. All he takes is cold water. Then think of his loneliness, his danger, his anxiety for those he left behind and their anxiety for him.

(5) Faith. — Faith in his work, in his machine, in himself.

Now, boys and girls, most of you are back to school by this time. Apply these five points to your own life in the light of Christ’s life, work, and sacrifice. See if you can make a useful sermon for yourselves. I’ll only say two things for the finish of. your sermon.

(a) Mr. Mollison’s faith would have been useless if he hadn’t founded it on the first four things. Faith, to be sensible, must be founded on something or Someone reliable. Who is that Someone?

(b) Mr. Mollison’s flight was called a lone venture. Life will not be that if you remember Christ’s promise: "Lo, I am with you aways", and then "Stand in His strength alone".


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