An observant Jewish commercial airline pilot says the ash cloud that spewed from the eruption of a volcano in Iceland, paralyzing air traffic throughout Europe for nearly a week, was a sign from Heaven not to take the ability to travel the skies for granted.
But his attitude comes as no surprise: David Price, 47, is an observant Jew, the only Chabad-Lubavitch commercial pilot in the world. He doesn't get many personal holidays, despite the numerous legal perks that come with his high-end job as a pilot for Air France, and he uses his vacation days to make sure he doesn't have to accept flight assignments on the Sabbath or Jewish holidays.
The Paris native learned about the Torah commandments as a child, with the advent of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. His mother, in a show of solidarity with the Jews of Israel, took her son to synagogue. Soon the small family became more observant, and the mother approached Chabad of Paris for help in giving her son a Jewish education.
Price visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, twice during that time, and both experiences left a deep impression on the youth. He later attended flight school in Toulouse, and with 15 years and two thousand hours of flight time to his credit, he eventually moved up the ladder to become a pilot.
That was 10 years ago. The husband and father of three has since continued to fly transatlantic commercial flights, which he said give him “plenty of time to marvel at [G-d's] creation.”
The recent eruption of the Icelandic volcano, with its week-long disruption of flights all over Europe, was one such marvel, noted Price in a Lubavitch.com interview translated from Hebrew by Rabbi Eli Friedman. “I have no doubt that this is a sign from Heaven, to teach us not to take the fact that the skies are open to use for granted. Besides, an amazing thing happened as a result of the volcano," he added. "Thousands of Jews did not fly on the Sabbath."