The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday June 5th

International Hero Speaks at FCA Meeting

Clarke Bynum addressed the role of God in his heroic act of saving a British Airways flight from a terrorist attack last December to a crowd of about 100 in the Kenan Field House.

Bynum was on his way to Uganda on a two-week missionary trip. He said his prayer for the trip was to clearly see God in action and to change his life. "I just never knew how true those words would become," he said.

After the initial flight from Charlotte to London, nothing went as planned, Bynum said. He and his friend, Gifford Shaw, missed their flight from London to Uganda due to an ice storm. They were put on a plane to Nairobi several hours later.

"Here we were on a flight we never should have been on," Bynum said. "Everything from this point on was divine intervention."

He and Shaw were seated on the second level of a Boeing 747, two rows behind the cockpit door.

About one hour into the flight, Bynum said he awoke to the "most tremendous jolt you could imagine." Bynum would later find out that the plane dropped 19,000 feet in less than two minutes.

He said he then heard horrendous screams coming from the cockpit. Bynum said he knew at that moment he was going to die.

"It was the strangest thing to know that in three to five seconds I was going to be in heaven," he said. "The first thing I felt was peace. But then I thought of my wife and kids and felt incredible sadness. It was then I felt the overwhelming need to do something."

Bynum took one step to the cockpit door and opened it to find an unarmed Kenyan man standing over the pilot, forcing the plane down.

Bynum, a 6-foot-7 former Clemson basketball player and UNC recruit, then grabbed the man and pulled him as hard as he could. After he wrestled the man to the ground, other passengers helped hold the man down and handcuff him.

Bynum said his courageous behavior was not typical of his personality. "If I hear a bump in the night, I tell my wife to go check it out," he said, drawing laughter from the audience. "I'm really not the bravest person. My bravery in that situation was an act of God."

FCA Vice President Mary Cort said her organization invited Bynum to speak because his Christian values mirrored the beliefs and ideals of FCA members. "His experience on the plane is a testimony to how God worked in his life and his presence in everyone's lives," Cort said.

Bynum calls his experience on the plane a true miracle. While he did not continue on to Uganda, Bynum said he still went on a mission trip, just not the one he had planned. "I could have touched 1,000 Ugandans' lives, but with this story I have travelled to four continents and delivered my story to 30 million people," he said. "I want people to know I am just an ordinary person chosen by God to do an extraordinary thing."

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