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OPINION

The story of the eagle and the drone

By R.A. Mathews
Special to The Star

The aircraft’s speed suddenly dropped, and it fell from the sky.   

This happened last month near Lake Michigan. Hunter King with Michigan’s Department of EGLE, Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, was on shore monitoring the aircraft with a video screen. Suddenly, he saw the warnings as the aircraft spiraled downward.  

At least that’s his story.   

Mercifully, no one was hurt. But King claims it was a premeditated attack — a propeller had been ripped from EGLE’s aircraft. He blames a party he spotted in the area before and after the crash. Surprisingly, every media outlet imaginable, even USA Today, jumped on board, convicting the accused with little more than Hunter’s words. 

Let me tell you as an attorney that it’s all circumstantial; no one actually saw the accused eagle near EGLE’s drone. Couldn’t a hawk have covertly staged the attack, waiting for the eagle to pass? Hmm? 

Even worse — consider sabotage. I mean, what do we really know about Hunter King?  

The truth is that it’s just as likely the suspect eagle was actually two innocent parties. Hear me out. 

Yes, this eagle was described as bald and fit identical descriptions given by other witnesses, but can you really tell one bald eagle from another? 

Not only do they look alike, eagles can fly long distances with no effort. The first eagle could have been in Canada by the time Hunter spotted the second one. This is an ugly case of defamation. 

And it’s classic saboteur-strategy to blame a high-profile party like an eagle — the bird is special, even King Solomon thought so. Three thousand years ago, he said, “There are … things that are too amazing for me … the way of an eagle in the sky…” Proverbs 30:18-19  

Perhaps you don’t know what he means. We spend our days in air-conditioned homes, offices, and cars, while people of the Bible were outside in nature. They watched eagles with awe — such birds can mount higher and higher, disappearing into the sky without moving a wing. They can rise to heights of 10,000 feet.  

But how is that possible? How can anything move without effort? 

Oh, yes. It happens. 

Solomon saw it. So did Isaiah. In fact, the prophet Isaiah used this wonder to preach an important message. He says faith in God will grant to a believer the same effortless power the eagle has. 

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles.” Isaiah 40:30 KJV 

Today, science reveals the mystery behind the creature’s flight: Thermals. Solar thermals. 

I know, I’d never heard of them either. 

It seems the sun warms the earth’s air, then this hot air rises and cold air rushes in. The effect is a column of uplifting air. You can actually see the columns when they rise toward a cumulous cloud.  

When one column stands beside another and another, it creates a highway that allows eagles to glide for miles without moving a wing. The eagle can use a single column to rise higher and higher until it disappears with apparently no effort at all. 

I say apparently because that upward air flow is not necessarily “a breeze” — as it turns out, thermals are also what make planes toss in the sky. Those jarring gusts create air turbulence. In the olden days, such turbulence could cause planes to crash.  

Perhaps EGLE’s drone suffered such a fate; the propeller ripped away by a fast-moving current. 

Yet eagles know how to negotiate these erratic, troublesome gusts. Eagles let thermals lift them higher and higher. 

This year has brought great difficulty; countless people are suffering. The effect of the virus is increasing day after day, bringing economic hardship, life-altering illness, and death. Most states can’t contain the spread. 

Yet adversity, great and small, will always be with us. Life’s currents can take you down like Hunter's drone or lift you up like the bald eagle. God is what makes the difference.  

Stay close to Him and He will give you power and show you the way through this terrible year. 

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.”  

Mathews is an attorney, faith columnist, and the author of “Reaching to God.” Contact her at letters@RAMathews.com.  

 Copyright © 2020 R.A. Mathews.  All rights reserved.