By Michela Branch | DFW Newsflash | September 2019
Fort Worth—The DFW Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy presented their annual Rise Up Prayer Breakfast, sharing uplifting messages while raising funds at the C.R. Smith Museum on Friday, Aug. 30.
“We get donations from the airport, but we still have to raise much of the money ourselves,” Jennifer Martinez Buchanan, administrative assistant for the DFW Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy, said. “The prayer breakfast is a chance to get together, join in prayer, and raise money for the organization. Every year we bring in different inspiring speakers to talk about their experiences and stories.”
The DFW International Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy offers a ministry of presence, spiritual counseling, and support for the DFW Airport community, providing places of worship and reflection for people of all faiths and religious traditions. At the airport, there are multiple services for people of all religions and denominations available for airport workers and passengers.
This year’s breakfast guest of honor was Retired Captain Carl Gamble, a pilot with 37 years of experience. He worked for and later retired from American Airlines. He also wrote and published ‘My Blue Yonder,’ a memoir outlining the details and challenges of his career.
Father Greg McBrayer, associate chaplain and chairman of the board of the DFW Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy, honored his colleague.
“One of his favorite lines [Gamble] would always say was that there are bold pilots and there are old pilots, but there are no bold old pilots,” McBrayer said. “He was always a pleasure to work with.”
Gamble described the challenges he faced becoming a pilot.
“As a child, I wanted to be a pilot after watching the jet fighters flying over my hometown,” Gamble said. “But growing up, there were no Black pilots. There were none in the history books.”
Originally discouraged by the lack of Black pilots, Gamble was not going to pursue a career as a pilot until a friend told him about the Tuskegee Airmen. Gamble was inspired pursue a career in aviation after obtaining a college degree and joining the Air Force ROTC despite being dangerously close to the minimum weight requirements.
“Life is not a straight line,” Gamble said.
Gamble went from being a Vietnam war hero to cooking burgers at McDonald’s until a position at American Airlines was available. After he joined American Airlines, the airline experienced rapid growth. He made captain as a commercial pilot at American Airlines in five years when the average time frame of a pilot making the rank was between 14 and 18 years.
Some pilots in their careers never experience their plane burning down or their plane being hijacked, but Gamble was the first pilot to ever experience both. When he served in the Air Force in Vietnam, his plane was shot down in 1969. Gamble and his crew made escaped the plane two minutes before it caught fire and was destroyed.
As a commercial pilot fifteen years later in 1984, Flight 457 was hijacked to Cuba. In Cuba, the hijacker was arrested and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. It was an overwhelming experience to Gamble.
“In those times in my life I had to put my faith in God,” Gamble said. “I don’t know if I could have done half the things I did if I didn’t have my faith.”
The breakfast was held in conjunction with the American Airlines Christian Employees Business Resource Group (CEBRG).