This is the Fairchild A-10 “Warthog.” Designed in 1972, it remains in service with the United States Air Force. It has one job, and one job only – to utterly destroy anything threatening United States forces on the battlefield.
The Warthog is a battlefield ordinance delivery system. It can loiter over the battlefield for hours over the battlefield. The ailerons (the part that makes a plane roll) are situated at the tips of the wings, allowing the Hog to make tight rolls and turns, giving it unbelievable close combat maneuverability.
At the nose of the Warthog is a massive 30 mm GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling gun. It can unleash depleted-uranium rounds at 3,900 rounds per minute (that’s 65 rounds per second!). It has enough hard point mounts on the wings to carry enough ordinance to destroy pretty much anything it encounters on a modern battlefield.
The pilot sits inside a 900 lb titanium bathtub which is resistant to rounds in excess of 25mm and has shown to be resistant to some rounds in excess of 57mm. The cockpit glass is constructed of diffusion-bonded stretched-acrylic which is bulletproof and can resist 20mm cannon fire.
It mounts two GE TF34-GE-100 Turbofan engines. Each engine produces over 9,000 lbf static thrust. This does not mean much to most of us, so let me translate that. It means the Warthog can operate at standard tolerances with one engine completely blown off.
If you haven’t noticed already, I am a geek when it comes to the Warthog. I LOVE THIS BIRD!
So, what does the Warthog have to do with the Church and merging two congregations? It lies in this fact.
The Warthog is tough, but what makes it REALLY TOUGH is that every system in it is designed with a redundant system right behind it. Some systems even have triple redundancy. You can fly the Hog with one wing, one stabilizer, one engine and half the fuselage blown away. It is one tough bird.
During the first Battle of Baghdad in 2003, then-Captain Kim Campbell was flying ground support missions when her A-10 received extensive damage from ground flack. Damage was significant enough to shut down the hydraulic system that controls her rudder.
Any other aircraft would have been downed and Captain Campbell would have found herself a guest of the Iraqi military. But not the Hog.
Capt. Campbell switched to manual reversion mode, turned the aircraft around and calmly flew the hour back to base.
People have asked whether it is a bad thing that after Grace and Heritage merge, we will have multiple people capable of handling the same tasks. The answer is a resounding and definitive NO!
Redundancy is absolutely essential to survival as a church. When you only have one group of people who can accomplish a task, if something happens to those people, you are in a ‘dead stick’ situation. You’re going in and there is nothing you can do about it.
It is awesome that Grace has musicians, and teachers, and preachers. It is awesome that Heritage has the same. Bringing the congregations together requires that we design our style of ministry around redundancy. We welcome it and we learn to operate with it in place.
Even the diversity of the redundancy is awesome. When Capt. Campbell switched to manual reversion mode, she switched to an entirely different way of handling the aircraft. Neither system was right or wrong, better or worse – they were just different. And the manual reversion system was intentionally discrete from the hydraulic system so it WOULD be different and still accomplish the same goal.