(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
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
— 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