President Uchtdorf’s Best Airplane Analogies from BYU Speeches
November 6, 2015 • Blog Post
Happy Birthday, President Uchtdorf! Dieter F. Uchtdorf celebrates 75 years today. He was born on November 6, 1940, in Moravská Ostrava, Czechoslovakia.
President Uchtdorf currently serves as the second counselor in the First Presidency, and he is well loved by members of the Church for his humor, sincerity, and friendliness. His stories resonate with us because of their sincerity. We relate to his empathetic descriptions of life’s struggles, and we feel connected to him. His talks often focus on the simplicity of the gospel and leave us feeling hopeful.
President Uchtdorf is known throughout the Church for his popular airplane analogies. Before his call to serve as a General Authority, President Uchtdorf worked as a pilot. He began flying planes in 1959, which, as he points out in one of his BYU speeches, was only 56 years after the Wright brothers invented the airplane.
In order to celebrate President Uchtdorf’s birthday, we’ve rounded up four of his best airplane analogies from his BYU speeches.
1.“Daily, simple but sincere and mighty prayers will help you to lift your lives onto a higher spiritual altitude. In your prayers you praise God, give thanks to Him, confess weaknesses, petition needs, and express deep devotion to your Heavenly Father. As you do this, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, you perform a spiritual effort that leads to increased inspiration, revelation, and righteousness—not self-righteousness—and brings the brightness of heaven into your lives.
“This brings back memories from my professional life as an airline captain: departing from a dark and rainy airport, climbing through thick and threatening winter clouds, and then, suddenly, breaking through the cloud tops and steeply gaining altitude into the bright sunshine and into the endless blue sky, feeling free, safe, and home at last. But this beautiful feeling reflects only the smallest part of what you can experience through your daily prayers.” (“The Wind Beneath Your Wings,” November 11, 2003)
2. “In piloting an airplane, you learn quickly that your flight path depends greatly on how you handle challenging external influences such as wind and weather. Even more important, however, are the decisions you make in response to those external influences. Your decisions, in fact, can counteract the external influences to ensure that you stay on course and reach your desired eternal, divine destination. In order to make those decisions correctly, it helps to know what your actual position is. Therefore, it is of vital importance to have a true and valid reference point like the polar star in the Northern Hemisphere or a reliable electronic platform wherever you are.
“As you know, there are plenty of winds and storms in the world today that attempt to blow you off course. In order to continue the course you have begun here at Brigham Young University, you need a spiritual polar star in your life. You need a point of reference that has eternal consistency and reliability.
“Today I bear witness to you, individually and collectively, that you do have the most stable and dependable reference platform for your spiritual and physical position available to you. It will help you to know at all times and in all places whether or not you are on the right path.
“It is the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Always be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost.” (“As You Embark upon This New Era,” April 23, 2009)
3. “The thing about truth is that it exists beyond belief. It is true even if nobody believes it.
“We can say west is north and north is west all day long and even believe it with all our heart, but if, for example, we want to fly from Quito, Ecuador, to New York City in the United States, there is only one direction that will lead us there, and that is north—west just won’t do.
“Of course, this is just a simple aviation analogy. However, there is indeed such a thing as absolute truth—unassailable, unchangeable truth.” (“What Is Truth?” January 13, 2013)
4. “The Wright brothers needed engine power to make the airplane fly. Without true engine power this machine would have remained static. There would have been no lift, no forward motion to enable flight—no airplane.
“You have an all-encompassing true source of power available to help you reach the purpose of your creation. This is the power of God, exercising a subtle and loving influence in the lives of His children, lifting you and keeping you aloft.” (“The Wind Beneath Your Wings,” November 11, 2003)