Seattle Air Crash: Finding hope in the wreckage

On Friday, airport-worker Richard Russell stole an empty passenger plane. He did some loops and a barrel-roll, before ‘going nose-down and calling it a night.’

Air-traffic control transcripts reveal a man aware of his actions and calm before his death.

“I would like to apologise to each and every one of [my loved ones]. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose.”


The media wanted to highlight one, otherwise irrelevant, detail - Russell was in local Christian youth ministry. The reason they did this was clear enough.

Don’t Christians have it all together? Christians ministering to others shouldn’t be ‘broken guys’, right?

Media aside, we might feel shocked that someone professing faith in Christ could do this. Maybe we’d say it’s evidence he wasn’t a follower of Jesus.

But we’d be foolish to do so.


To profess Christ as Lord is to profess my own brokenness. To call him saviour and healer is to admit that I need salvation and healing (Romans 10:9).

Christians are broken. We are sinners.

I didn’t know Russell, so I can’t say whether he was a Christian or not. But Jesus’ family is one of outcasts and broken sinners who do stupid stuff (Luke 5:31).

So Russell certainly wouldn’t be out of place.


His family described him as ‘a faithful husband, a loving son and a good friend.’ Basically, Russell didn’t look crazy. He was a normal kind of guy.

Like the rest of us. Sure, we won’t all do something like this. But behind our normalness is brokenness. Grief. Anxiety. Fear. Desire. Despair. Depression.

Like in Russell’s case, sometimes this cuts so deep we feel there’s no hope.

But Russell’s family were completely right. “Jesus is truly the only one holding [us] together right now. Without him we would be hopeless” (1 John 5:13).