Mormonism LIVE: 033: President Nelson’s Flight of Death

Today We explore a story President Nelson has told for years about a flight he was on in the 1970’s. He reports the plane’s engine exploding, the wing catching fire, a death spiral by the plane, the chaos aboard, and the plane’s landing in a farmer’s field. This story had many questioning the truthfulness of his account but there was never a smoking gun to get to the truth of the matter………. until now.

WHERE PRESIDENT NELSON OR OTHERS HAVE TOLD THE STORY

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1992/05/doors-of-death?lang=eng

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/president-nelson-argentina-2019

https://www.deseret.com/faith/2021/3/28/22355277/president-nelson-invites-all-to-feel-the-peace-and-hope-of-easter-by-focusing-on-the-savior

https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=EMwKxmTLaCs&ab_channel=TheChurchofJesusChristofLatter-daySaints

Russell M. Nelson, From Heart to Heart: An Autobiography (Salt Lake City: Nelson, 1979)

Russell M. Nelson: Father, Surgeon, Apostle – Spencer J Condie: Author

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/friend/1994/06/most-important?lang=eng Russell M. Nelson, The Gateway We Call Death (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1995)

https://www.thechurchnews.com/archives/2004-09-18/gospel-principles-vital-to-correct-living-94995

https://www.deseret.com/2006/4/15/19948411/death-is-part-of-life-ex-surgeon-says

https://www.thechurchnews.com/leaders-and-ministry/2018-09-03/president-nelson-delivers-historic-message-to-dominican-latter-day-saints-in-spanish-8931

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/news/president-nelson-shares-5-lessons-life-has-taught-me-with-49000-in-safeco-field?lang=eng

https://www.thechurchnews.com/leaders-and-ministry/2018-10-26/president-nelson-finds-church-thriving-in-uruguay-thanks-to-multiple-generations-of-members-missionaries-156122

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/president-nelson-argentina-2019

THE CLAIMS PRESIDENT NELSON HAS MADE THAT WERE RED FLAGS

1.) One Engine on a small Two Engine plane Exploded.
2.) Said Engine caught fire.
3.) In the Explosion flammable material was spread to the plane and the plane itself was on fire.
4.) The plane did a “Death Spiral” which extinguished the fire
5.) The Pilot “turned on the Other Engine”
6.) The plane landed in a “Farmer’s Field”

THE FACTS THAT ALLOWED OTHERS TO NARROW WHAT TO LOOK FOR

 1.) The Date of the flight was reported as November 12, 1976
2.) He was flying from SLC to St. George to attend the inauguration of W. Rolfe Kerr as the president of Dixie College.
3.) Anytime a plane incurs a malfunction or there is a mechanical flight issue or pilot error the Law requires such to be recorded. The Explosion would necessitate a publicly available recorded log report. The plane on fire would necessitate a publicly available recorded log report. The Death Spiral would necessitate a publicly available recorded log report. The landing in a Farmer’s Field would necessitate a publicly available recorded log report.

IF THE STORY OCCURRED THE WAY PRESIDENT NELSON HAS REPORTED, THERE ABSOLUTELY WOULD BE A REPORT THAT IS PUBLICLY AVAILABLE. MOST FABRICATIONS HINGE ON SOME GRAIN OF TRUTH, SO MANY IN THE POST-MORMON COMMUNITY WENT INTO DETECTIVE MODE.

THE FLIGHT REPORT FOR THIS FLIGHT WAS FINALLY LOCATED (IT WAS DIFFICULT TO FIND DUE TO THE MUNDANE ISSUES INCURRED THAT SEEMINGLY CONTRADICT NELSON’S STORY )



https://www.google.com/books/edition/_/wNa3AAAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PA1090&dq=skywest+incidents+1976

1.) Engine never exploded and continued to run though rough
2.) There was no Engine Fire.
3.) The Plane itself was never on fire
4.) The Other Engine was never off
4.) The plane made a “Precautionary landing at the airport in Delta Utah and not a farmer’s field
5.) There are other smaller issues with number of passengers, length of flight, cutting fuel line to both engines, and the date of the flight but we grant some benefit of the doubt for distorted memory.

If the Church or its defenders want to claim the conclusion that this flight one day earlier is NOT the flight President Nelson is speaking about, then the burden of proof is on them to provide the evidence. To claim there was another “SKY WEST” flight also going from SLC TO SAINT GEORGE” that had “WORSE ISSUES” “ONE DAY LATER”, then provide the “MANDATORY PUBLICLY AVAILABLE FLIGHT REPORT” of said flight. Without such, said conclusion by the defenders would require more conjecture and allowances.


The Plane believed to be the One Nelson rode that day

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4 Replies to “Mormonism LIVE: 033: President Nelson’s Flight of Death”

  1. While I agree that the actual events of the flight did not occur in the way that he is portraying, I am not convinced that President Nelson is intentionally misrepresenting what actually happened. Rather, I believe that what this episode illustrates is the fallibility of human memory. I think that President Nelson truly thinks that he is portraying the events as he remembers them. His mistake is that he assumes his memories of the events of that day are infallible.

    It’s understood in human psychology that our memories are not nearly as reliable as we think they are. Most of us assume that our memories are like watching a video of what actually happened. However, the reality is that memory is more like a room of movie editors going through a bunch of old footage, cutting, splicing, and reworking the content in a way that makes sense in the present moment and for their current audience. The revised footage goes back into our memory storage, where it will be retrieved and go through the process again the next time we retrieve the memory. Since our memory always occurs in the present, and is filtered through our current mental “editors”, our memories can easily be changed over time.

    You’ve probably experienced this firsthand: maybe you and a family member argue about who is remembering an event correctly. Your memory of events feels real to you, and theirs feels real to them. Neither is trying to deceive the other. No one is immune to this phenomenon. For a interesting listen, here’s an account of a famous harmonica player (Larry Adler) and a spy who can’t remember if a house raid they both went on during WWII uncovered a room full of Nazi’s or a room full of knitting grannies:
    https://www.pushkin.fm/episode/a-polite-word-for-liar/

    Since Nelson’s account is rooted in a documentable event and many of the details you uncovered coincide with his account, I think it’s highly likely that he is not making things up in the same way that Paul H Dunn was. I could easily see how many years of remembering and recounting this experience would have led him to unknowingly alter details of his memory of the event.

    Obviously, the fallibility of memory has implications for the whole restoration as well. Is it possible that many of the miracle stories we are familiar with are the result of our collective assumption that memories are (or should be) infallible? What implications does this have for the first vision? Can we trust prophets if they are susceptible to changing memories? I would love to hear your thoughts regarding this issue.

  2. Nelson’s flight of death story immediately reminded me of the “Free Brian Williams” episode Malcom Gladwell did in Revisionist History. It covers the inaccurate story Brian Williams told on the David Letterman Show of being shot down by an RPG in a helicopter in Iraq. This story destroyed his career.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRW_3Sh-m_o

    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/free-brian-williams/id1119389968?i=1000413184954

    Gladwell explains how our memory works and how Williams could have gotten from the original (true) version of his story to the ultimate (embellished) version of his story that got him fired.

    When I first heard this episode, it answered all of the questions I had of how Joseph could have gotten from his first version of his First Vision story in 1832 to his later, completely different, official version of the story in 1838.

    Now, it explains how Nelson got from his memory of real events to the version he eventually told Dew.

  3. As a former FBI Special Agent and pilot/flight instructor, I have heard a lot of tall tales on the way to getting truth out of people. It’s comical to see how stories evolve and devolve to meet the needs of the teller. This is more than just innocent psychological variability of remembrances over time. This story is a case of classical pathological lying to get glory and shore up the ever waning paradigm that prophets/apostles get special protections from god, etc. I have also found that science based techniques to get to the truth of something are far more effective than the so called power of discernment that bishops, on up, are supposedly endowed with.

    In the course of an investigation, I once followed a bank robber to a Bishop’s storehouse one day where he and his accomplice wife had apparently snookered his bishop out of two heaping grocery carts full of assistance, on multiple occasions. Maybe he robbed the banks to get the tithing money he needed to pay in order to qualify for the assistance. Apparently that bishop’s power of discernment was turned off during those interviews.

    The airplane story “doesn’t fly” on the face of it for all the reasons you pointed out. This is every bit as much a witting fabrication as anything Paul H Dunn ever invented.

    This was a great episode. Nice work.

  4. THE CLAIMS PRESIDENT NELSON HAS MADE THAT WERE RED FLAGS should include the whole dramatic story itself.
    This is NOT the way it happens when one is faced with death. One is not thinking about how glad they are that they are wearing their temple garments or how happy they have been in their marriage.
    Adrenaline would have been pumping wildly if Russell’s account was accurate. Adrenaline is a flight or fight hormone NOT a “let’s think happily about my life and ignore that hysterical woman.”

    There is a group of 4 men on Youtube called The Behavior Panel. They were breaking down the story of the guy who claims he was in a whale’s mouth. At one point, one of these experts says, “That’s not the way it happens.” And he is right. I have been in a couple of pretty scary accidents and I didn’t give a thought to anyone or anything at that time – I was just a helpless, scared victim.

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