Mission Bush Pilot and Nurse

After spending three years in Guyana, South America, we have now moved to Bewani, 50 Km south of Vanimo, Papua New Guinea. We have started a new humanitarian aviation ministry here. In visiting with health officials and church people here, the need for an aviation program to reach into remote villages became very apparent. We are taking health workers and medicines/vaccines, into remote village airstrips and bringing out critically ill patients to the hospital. We also fly in educational materials for schools, as well as take in Bible workers. Toni is helping with the medical end of things, while Gary takes care of the flying part. We have several local lay missionaries we sponsor and we do ground transport for patients as well. We are volunteers here to serve our God and the unreached people of Papua New Guinea. We have a great need for more people to join in this effort.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Operation Recovery

Happy New Year Everyone! A lot of things have happened in our life this year!! Now we are ending it in a few short hours down in the jungles of Venezuela!! The Friday before Christmas, we flew in the Cessna 172 up to the city of Ciudad Bolivar to get the paper that said we could remove the crashed 182 from the jungle and we also signed a contract to buy another Cessna 182. We will use it here at the current airbase until the other one is repaired or replaced, then it will go with us to start our new base; after I get my license and training done Thanks to those of you who have prayed for this plane for us and those who are helping financially, so we can pay for it. We still have to have some important safety features installed once we actually get the plane. It will be another month or two before we get the plane. The paper work here takes awhile!

Sabbath we made an emergency flight to bring in a young lady who had been snake bitten while coming out of church. It was the type of snake where you have only 2 maybe 3 days to live without treatment. We had to stop and take fuel out; fly in to get her, and then reload the fuel. The airstrip into her village was too short for extra fuel and me. (I waited with the fuel at another strip). Then on Sunday, Bob, our radio operator and myself flew out to the crash site and removed all the avionics and seats from the inside of the upside down plane and flew them home.

On Wednesday, Bob flew the radio operator (Celso) and me out to the crash site again so we could start taking the plane apart. His plan was to go back and bring in 2 mechanics to help us. We planned to have it apart and ready to put in a dugout canoe in one day. Well things didn't go as planned. The mechanics didn't show up until noon on Thursday. Celso and I stayed out there Wednesday and Thursday night. That was an experience too long to describe here. We had to take the tail, wings, and motor off the fuselage so we could haul it all up the bank where it had gone down. It had gone off the end of the runway, and then flipped over. (In case you didn't hear, this is what happened: Bob was landing on this very short strip the day after we got here when he got a strong gust of a tail wind that pushed him over the end of the runway and flipped it upside down. None of the four on board was hurt.) Then we hauled everything the length of the runway and then down a very steep and long path down to the river where we loaded all of it onto a single dugout canoe (50' long).

Friday morning we finished getting it loaded by about 7 a.m. There was a person contracted to put his 40 hp motor on the canoe to take us up river. He left in another boat with the motor. We finally got someone to do it for us about noon. It was a fantastic 4 hr trip up river--except for the 30 min, downpour that chilled and soaked us. We saw lots of mining operations, birds, plant life etc. We arrived at the beach where we were expecting to find a truck to load the plane onto to take us out. It was late (that's ,normal for here). It came 1.5 hrs after dark. We had to load the big parts onto a Ford 350, the engine into a Toyota 4x4 and smaller parts into a Land Cruiser. The "road" (gully washes, rivers, holes big enough to bury the plane in etc) out of there to the next town, where our school's driver was waiting, took us 2.5 hrs of bone-jarring, plane-crunching, towing, to get there!! It was nearly midnight when we got there, so we decided to "sleep" until 4 a.m., and only move the engine and stuff from the land cruiser to the school's truck. The main part of the plane would stay in the 350 the rest of the way home.

We got home about 8 AM Saturday morning. Very tired, very hungry, very sore. We had planned on being gone 1-2 days and it ended up taking 3.5 days. Bob was out on a medical emergency flight when we got there, so he radioed in and said, just unload the plane into our house!! I got back on the radio and said, "no, not enough room, don't need to put bent up sheet metal in my house. We can put the engine in there, but the rest can sit outside. We ended up with the engine and big parts outside and the small stuff in our house--along with the construction materials that were already in there--under the clothes line! Kinda like living in a warehouse!. We now have "redneck" furniture in our house--kind of like Tennessee!!!

I only killed one snake while out there, then when I got home that night I found a snake in our bathroom on the shelf by the sink. Toni was very glad I was here to take care of it!! Turned out to be non-poisonous, but one can't be too careful around here!!! Bob and Neiba left yesterday for the USA. They will be there for a month. They have some meetings to attend this week. So if you were wondering what we do down here for the holidays and for excitement, now you have an idea!! The stories I have now rival the ones I used to tell from Bolivia! Toni had her own "fun" here while I was out on my adventure. Hope you have a great new year. The Lord is coming VERY SOON and we pray, each of us will be ready.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Taking Apart the Plane

Gary has been in the jungle since Wednesday am working to get the crashed plane out. (The one the base pilot, Bob, crashed the day after we arrived here). They were supposed to arrive home last night, but didn't make it. They didn't have enough help. They had to take the plane apart and haul the parts up a bank, down the runway, and then down the other bank. Then they had to meet a motorized canoe that would take it upriver 3 hrs. to a place where a truck could meet them. (the road is too rough for the school truck--has to be 4-wheel drive) The truck was to take them to another site where the school truck was waiting to haul the plane back to the airbase.

It's been quite an operation. There were only 3 of them to work on the plane, most of the time. Celso is the radio man, and he had to be in charge of communications--lots of phone calls and radio calls to make, arrange for the boat and truck, someone to cook for them,; so, he was busy doing lots of other things, as well. Bob, the base pilot, also had to fly everybody back and forth, and some of the plane parts. So, he wasn't there all the time. Gary was the only one there all the time. Two mechanics from the shop were supposed to be there to help, but they showed up 1 1/2 days late, and only worked 3 hrs. Bob had to haul them back and forth in the plane. They finally got the plane parts to the riverbank--a little late.
The guy they hired to do the canoe had just left to do something else. He left his motor with another boat. They couldn't get that driver to do the job. It took them all morning to find someone to take the plane upriver. They were supposed to meet the truck at 12 noon. It takes 3 hrs. to go upriver. They were very late. When they got there, the truck had just turned around and left to do something else. By the time the truck got there, it was dark.

We can't fly here after dark--due to no lights on the airstrips or anywhere. So, Bob couldn't bring everybody home. He had to go out on an emergency flight this am, which i was hoping to go on, but couldn't. So Gary & Celso will probably come back on the truck this am. It's a 4 hr. drive. I know they will be tired, hungry and ready for a shower and some rest!! Anyway, i've rattled on too long.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Leaving for the Jungle

This morning I am leaving for the jungle for a few days to help take apart the crashed plane. We will take the wings, tail, and engine off; haul it up the steep embankment to the "runway" then down to the other end. We will take it down the embankment to the river to load on a dugout canoe. They think we can put it all on the one canoe.! Then we have a 3 hr trip up river to where we can load it onto a truck from the academy. From there, we will truck it 500 miles north to the repair shop. Hope to have it done by tomorrow night, but may take until Fri. We would really like to have the plane in the shop by Fri night if all goes well. The place where we are working is very hot and humid with lots of flying insects and creepy crawlies. Should be quite an adventure!! When we were there a couple of days ago taking out the instruments and seats, there were lots of butterflies. There is lots of humidity, and it is very remote. The "airstrip" is very short so we have to take fuel off and on at another longer strip before we go in. Toni will stay here and keep things going here. Will try to take some pictures that will show some of the fun.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Venezuelan Plane Found!

Greetings from the jungle: we have been waiting for over 4 weeks to get the Cessna 172 finished up, and down here so that we would have something to fly. Maybe this next week if we are lucky, we'll be able to fly—but there are no guarantees!!

We hope to have the final paper work to start extracting the crashed one out of the jungle by tomorrow-- if the promises hold!?? If these things don't happen next week, then it will most likely be after the first of the year. The elections are over now and the reforms were voted down. The president is still in until 2012 so things could still….

We missed it in the last bulletin, but we are now the proud grandparents to a granddaughter born to our daughter, Katherine and her husband Kalyn, about a month ago. We hope to see before too long!

We have found a 1970 Cessna 182 for sale down here that we are negotiating to buy for our mission project. We would like to have it soon after the first of the year and it is ready to fly. We would use it here at the airbase to do medical flights, and also to do my training. When that is done, and the other one is repaired; we would then take it where we plan to start a new base in Amazonas. It has low hours and is the best we have found for the money. It costs about $85K US. A large down payment has come in for it and we may be able to trade the 172 in for half of the cost or GMI will raise that half for us, in lieu of trading the 172. It will need about $8K US in improvements ( i.e. STOL kit, wing extensions, STC for auto gas, and large tires) so that it will be safer and cheaper to fly in the jungles here. A 182 would be a much more powerful and safer bird for us to fly and even cheaper than the 172 when you figure speed and less number of flights. We are amazed at how the Lord has provided thus far for this project, and we believe He will help us raise the balance of $28K in time.

As we celebrate the holidays coming up, let us remember the great gift that God gave each of us by sending His son to die for us that we might live with Him! May the new year bring us each closer to Him Thanks for your prayers and support!