Readers' Choice

‘Hearts of Courage’

Survival story by long-time CU CEO John Tippets is a testament to the power of faith and perseverance.

March 29, 2013
KEYWORDS courage , crash , tippets
/ PRINT / ShareShare / Text Size +

On Jan. 5, 1943, a twin-engine Lockheed-Electra airplane left Boeing Field in Seattle with legendary bush pilot Harold Gillam and five passengers en route to Anchorage, Alaska.

Thirty miles from a refueling stop on Annette Island, rough weather and mechanical problems forced a crash landing in the Alaskan wilderness. Everyone aboard survived the crash, but only four withstood the ordeal that followed.

Among them was a man with credit union ties: Joseph Tippets, a government aeronautics administrator—and father of John Tippets, long-time CEO of American Airlines Federal Credit Union.

Tippets wrote an account of his father’s 29-day trial during the coldest winter the area had seen in decades. More than a survival story or adventure yarn, “Hearts of Courage” is a testament to the power of hope, faith, courage, and endurance.

Here’s how the elder Tippets recalls the moment of impact:

“For 20 lifelong minutes, the plane skimmed treetops with snow-capped peaks occasionally visible through the overcast. While waiting for the crash to come, I calmly put on my galoshes. Others did likewise or performed some inconsequential act. There was almost complete silence in the group, each member of the party mentally preparing himself for the end.

“It was about 6:30 p.m. I yelled at Dewey to fasten his seat belt! Avoiding one mountain, Gillam veered the plane left, then seeing another mountain straight ahead, Harold tried to pancake into an open spot, but the right wing hit two or three trees, shearing off their tops and perhaps slowing us just a little as the wing broke off.

“Just before impact, to reduce the risk of fire, Gillam cut the power to the still functioning right engine. The crash was as if we were in an explosion—a shuddering impact, the sound of crushing metal, blindness, and pain all at the same moment.”

The story of how Tippets and three others survived caused one of his colleagues to exclaim, “The age of miracles is not yet past!”

Learn more here.
 

Click here to submit a book review or recommendation.

Post a comment to this story

heroes

What's Popular

Popular Stories

Recent Discussion

Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Your Say: Who should be Credit Union Magazine's 2014 CU Hero of the Year?

View Results Poll Archive