On Nov. 22, 1999, American Airlines Captain Jay Straub landed his Boeing 727, taxied it to Terminal C, Gate 22 and prepared to ride in a crew van over to Terminal A for a quick departure to Nashville.
He never caught that ride.
In his memoir, “They Call Me Miracle Man,” Straub recounts his career–and nearly life-ending accident- as well as a life-long dysfunctional history with relationships. It also speaks to his faith in God to support his journey through life.
Straub’s first flying lesson was at age 12 in 1970 and earned his pilot’s license in 1975 as a 17-year-old.
On that November day in 1999, Straub had taken his flight bag down the crew staircase– a metal staircase with open-holed stairs– when he saw one of the flight attendants had put her bags at the top of the stairs while she delivered paperwork inside. Knowing how high-heels can get stuck in the step-holes, he climbed up to get her bag. The staircase snapped off from the jet bridge and Straub dropped straight down 12-feet headfirst into the concrete.
The first person to reach him was his flight engineer, Ans Wishing.
He heard the sound of the metal breaking,” writes Straub. “He ran over to me and I had blood pouring from my nose, mouth and ears. I went into convulsions and he got down and held me up to prevent me from drowning on my own blood.”
Wishing jumped in the ambulance as it sped to Parkland Hospital for what would be years of medical healing.
What followed was a transfer to Baylor Rehab Hospital, a short stay at the Centre for Neuro Skills (CNS), a transfer to Zale Lipshy Hospital until Aug. 18, 2000, then back to CNS.
On May 24, 2001, the Allied Pilots Association held a luncheon in honor of Straub and more than 100 people attended– including his medical team plus the ambulance crew.
Throughout his struggles, Straub had been involved in bible study groups and relied on his faith in God’s support and the sacrifice Jesus had made for humanity.
Later in 2001, Straub’s cousin, Curtis Hail– a founder of Global Mission Fellowship, a church-planting mission group working in Russia, Eastern Europe, South America and other places– came to visit. Hail had separated from his former organization and started a new ministry based on a visual tool, the Evangecube. Joining Hail was a pastor who was switching to international church-planting, Tom Doyle.
Hail and Doyle felt that Straub should go on the first trip for the new ministry to share his story of the previous two years and his faith in God as an uplifting story of faith. The first trip would be to Gaza City in Israel, then Amman, Jordan, then on to the United Arab Emirates.
Since that first trip in August 2002, Straub has gone on approximately 14 different trips.
Since 2009, he has also been involved with his church group delivering fresh produce to people.
There’s always joy and hope and forgiveness,” said Straub. “I lost something I loved doing [flying], but I take joy and have hope for what our Lord did for us on the cross.”
You can find Straub’s memoir at www.jaystraub.com.