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.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

God's gentle hands!

Thursday March 17, the skies finally cleared for a beautiful day of sunshine after so many weeks of rain. I flew a pastor out to a remote village, then on to another village delivering food supplies to another missionary. Then I headed on to our school at Paruima. The waterfalls along the way were spectacular due to all of the recent rain. It was so inspiring to see Gods handy work from the air. I loaded 2 students and some of their luggage into the plane to take them to Georgetown so they could return home. I left some luggage as the airstrip grass was damp and muddy because of the rains and I didn't want to be too heavy. We took off with a very slight breeze and all was well so I decided to do a U turn and pick up the other piece of luggage for the student who was returning to a distant village. Just as we were touching down there was a gust of wind from behind that pushed us down the runway. I released the flaps to get the plane to stick on the damp grass and applied hard on the brakes. There are long skid marks on the runway from it. I have landed going this way many times, but normally we land the other way because of wind and going up hill as well as flying over the school letting them know we have arrived.  Landing this time going down hill and wind pushing us and damp grass, we were unable to stop the plane in time. the airstrip ends at the river. The river was very high due again to the rains. We went over the 12 foot embankment and God's hand gently set us down in the bushes in the edge of the river. There was no bone jarring, neck snapping stop, just a gentle stop in the bushes and water. Water started coming into the cabin right away as villagers rushed to help us get out. The 2 doors on the passenger side opened without a problem and the students exited into waist deep water and we began to hand out luggage and items from the plane before it got wet. No one was hurt or scratched! Praise the Lord! Several commented that there was a gust of wind just as we landed and as soon as we crashed there was no more wind, not even a whisper for the next couple of hours.
The villagers came to our rescue and brought some rope. In less than an hour they had turned the plane around and pulled it up the near vertical embankment and onto the airstrip again. My camera got wet in the incident so will have to borrow some pictures to put on the blog site when they come out from Paruima.  It was amazing and I believe angels were helping to lift it as well. The supports that hold up the wings are bent in half on one side so one wing droops very low, the front wheel support is bent and broken and the windshield is broken. Only about 1/3 of the cabin was in the water and the control panel never got wet! God is good!. A fellow mission pilot, Jud Wickwire, from Wings for Humanity heard the call go out on the radio and he got there not long after the plane was out of the river. He spent the night there with us and the next morning he flew the students to town and then brought out the investigators from Civil Aviation (like FAA). They did their report and then Jud flew us to Georgetown late Friday. 
It will take a lot of work to get the plane ready to fly back to Georgetown, hoping to get a mechanic to do a good check on it in a couple of weeks.
We are so thankful there were no injuries or worse. We don't know what the future holds for us right now, but we know Who holds the future and we are in His hands. That is the best place to be at times like this.
Toni was super busy dealing with the phone calls, the radio, aviation authorities etc. all the while not really knowing what all happened. Her mother is here visiting for a couple of weeks and that has helped. Toni is my hero!
There are so many other details I could add to this story of how God was there and before hand but this is getting too long already. Thank you so much for your prayers and support.
It was the Maule that crashed, the Cessna we just purchased is still in the shop getting retrofitted.