Tag Archives: flight

Flight To Langda, Papua, Indonesia

The worst cruelty that can be inflicted on a human being is isolation.  – Sukarno
Isolation is a self-defeating dream. – Carlos Salinas de Gortari

While serving on a project in Sentani, Indonesia I was given the opportunity to fly into the interior of Papua where people have lived for a longer than recorded history.  These folks have lived, for various reasons, in remote and isolated locations.  One of the villages I visited was Langda.

Langda, represented by the green airplane on the map,  is located at 6,100 ft in the mountains,  approximately 160 NM south of Sentani.  It is 41 NM west of Oskibil, the nearest town.   A 15 minute flight but several days by foot.  There are no roads.    The 16-34 airstrip is unpaved measuring 1,463 x 79 ft (446 x 24 m) on the crest of a mountain.  It opened in 1974 and serves the community as their main street.  Their only street.

During the dedication of a new airplane for Mission Aviation Fellowship, a primary service provider to these communities, it was said:

Langda“I know the excitement the sound of these planes will generate in places with names like Kiwi, Bomela, Langda, and Koropun,” said Dave Rask, MAF’s director of Aviation Resources. “These are places that have never seen a car. Places so remote that the only way to reach them is a long trek through the jungle, or by plane. In these areas, the missionaries, the medicines, books, Bibles … even the nails for the buildings and the aluminum for the roofs are delivered by MAF.”

Yajasi Avation

Although I was in Sentani working with MAF, this flight was with Yajasi Aviation, the flying arm of a language translation group.  There are several flying missions on the tarmac at Sentani and although they each have their specific mission domain, there is a great deal of cooperation among the organizations.

MAF was not scheduled for a flight to any small villages which allowed passengers, during my stay.  So they arranged this trip.  I was glad for the opportunity, not just to go to the village, but to chat with the pilot, Brad,  and get a perspective and history from another missions group…..and for a bit of stick time in a PC-6! Continue reading Flight To Langda, Papua, Indonesia

Through The Looking Glass Using Familiar Stones

“When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes, I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  ― Lewis CarrollThrough the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There
“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?  Then said I, Here am I, send me.”  Isaiah 8:8
I recently found myself in Papua Indonesia assisting on a project at a Base for Mission Aviation Fellowship.  I felt a lot like Alice in Wonderland when she stepped through the looking glass.  It was exciting, strange and yet vaguely familiar.  The aviation aspect was like an old friend, and the excitement of adapting to working in a foreign land was also not new to me.  Yet, I knew nothing about Indonesia, so I dusted off my skills of observing, listening, smiling, nodding my head and endeavoring to avoid being the ugly American abroad as much as possible.
The Project In The Looking Glass
looking glass The project was both simple and complex.  It was one of those tasks where the actual work was simple data entry into spreadsheets, but the knowledge needed to ensure the data being input was correct, was rather technical.  Even more important:  when to ask for direction .
Basically the task was to assign new addresses to each aircraft part in the base inventory. Nothing, or very little, actually moved physically.  In fact, the inventory is in amazing order.  However,  the aircraft part designations were in a data base used only in this region and the organization is moving to a centralized web based maintenance system for all aircraft in seventeen or so countries.

Continue reading Through The Looking Glass Using Familiar Stones

The Kodiak – See You On The Other Side

“See you on the other side”.   A closing salutation in an e-mail  from a missionary anticipating my arrival in Indonesia.

In the post My Journey Into Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) I mentioned touring

Kodiak
Our First Meeting in Nampa June 2016

their headquarters in Nampa, ID and attending an MAF event at the airport in Wichita.  During both of these occasions I was introduced to the Quest Kodiak airplane being incorporated into their fleet.  Little did I know this particular Kodiak would precede me on an unexpected journey.

The Kodiak by Quest Aviation can take off in 800 ft. with 7,500 lbs gross weight was developed specifically for the unique needs of mission aviation. 

Kodiak First Flight
The MAF event in Wichita was a “cold call” for me.  I knew none of the other local  supporters. At the event,  I had a warm conversation with the President and CEO, John Boyd who  queried me about my relationship with aviation in general and MAF specifically.  I gave the short version of my bio to which he responded, in a lovely accent “Nancy you would so enjoy volunteering in the hangar at MAF”.

I knew that would be the case, but in all honesty, Nampa, just outside Boise, ID is not on the way to anywhere and was not, at the time, on my list of places to go this year.  Yet, the desire got stuck in my soul and I got to take a flight in the Kodiak.  I suppose it watered the seed that had been planted many years before.

 At Wichita Eisenhower Airport
The Kodiak Calls
A short time later, I discovered that My mother, her brother and their spouses were going to attend an annual Idaho Rightmeier family picnic in August.  i was invited as well.  I realized I might be able to bundle these two worthy events into one trip. I applied to be an MAF volunteer, was approved to work in the fabrication shop, booked my tickets and headed northwest.
The week at the fabrication shop hit a chord in my soul I was unaware existed.  It hearkened back to the days I spent at the family auto parts, machine shop, salvage yard – except with airplane parts.  Of course Daddy had his EAA Bi-plane project setting in the shop as well, which he worked on as he could, so even that felt familiar.
Being a new kid on the fabrication block, I was eased into various odd projects:
  • putting boxes of shipping records into order
  • sorting airplane parts into their bins and updating their locations on spreadsheets
  • parkerizing and oiling parts for the Kodiak Oleo strut repair kit
  • sanding and oiling boxes for those parts to go in
  • bead blasting parts
  • powder coating custom prop hub tools. (I want one of these machines!)
  • and cutting vinyl to be made into pitot tube covers.
It was energizing!  I also got a second flight in the Kodiak.  This time, we headed for the hills of Idaho and I got to see just how remarkable this airplane is on 12% plus grades and really short take offs and landings.
MAF Advocacy
During the week, one of the shop overseers set me up to visit with the Advocate Wing Coordinator.  It had been suggested to me before to consider being an advocate, but the timing was not right.  Now it was.  Becoming an advocate is a process.  There is training, an interview and even a test in the form of a practice presentation that is recorded and sent in.

On the other hand, the support and materials provided an advocate is  just as professional as every other part of this organization.  I began setting up opportunities to speak right away along with my fellow local wing members.  This was going to be an awesome year.

But wait there is more!
I had just scheduled my first presentation at my local church and had a second one scheduled a week later at a school.  I had begun to make contact for other possible opportunities to speak, but life goes on, so I turned my attention to another need – grocery shopping.  As I was grabbing things off the bread shelf at Walmart, my phone rang.  It was MAF with a request so out of the blue, it took my breath away.
Gasp!
“Hi this is Tim.  We met in Nampa in the break room.  Your name came up in a conversation today.  We need someone to help with the aircraft parts inventory conversion at our base in Indonesia and wonder if you could help”.  (long pause while I process the questions racing through my brain).  Tim goes on to explain what is needed and why my name came up.  I am thinking:
  • passport – check
  • immunizations – check
  • calendar – flexible
After answering a few preliminary questions, I said, “I can’t think of a reason to say no”!  Details needed to be sorted out as to timing, visa and a consultation with  my spouse, but I left Walmart  headed to Sentani, Papua Indonesia.  Gasp! What will husband think? I sent him text.  No Response.  Hummm.  Head spinning, I drove home.  My husband came out of the house grinning from ear to ear.  I knew he was on-board.  So preparations began. I had asked for two things in the timing:
  • First. that the trip not interfere with Thanksgiving.  My family had planned a large gathering this year. and my mother was adamant that David and I BOTH be there.
  • Second, that I be home in time for our 40th Wedding Anniversary December 17.
The Kodiak Leads
kodiak
The Kodiak as she undergoes her transition to Indonesian citizenship at the Sentani MAF Base

I left the day after Thanksgiving and returned at 10 PM the night before our special day.  Three weeks and two days with a lifetime of experiences, including my 64th birthday  (what a neat gift).

During my orientation, as we toured the hangar I was greeted by an old friend: the Kodiak I had first seen during my tour of headquarters in June of 2016 and first flew in Wichita.  The same one I flew in a year later during my volunteer week.  There she was with her new Indonesian name:  PK-MEK, undergoing certification for her mission in her new home.
kodiakThere are several posts centering on this trip.  They fall under the “Flight” category of my Stonebridge.
My time and work in Indonesia pulled from multiple aspects of my life skills. God infused skills.  It is stunning how God does this, if we allow Him access.  Oh the adventures!

A Journey Into Mission Aviation Fellowship

journey

In June of 2016 on a return trip to Kansas from a family gathering in Moscow, ID, we took time to stop at the headquarters of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) in Nampa, ID. We have been supporters of MAF for over 25 years, but my journey with this organization goes back much further.

The Paternal Connection

After our visit, I began to reflect exactly how far back this journey goes. In fact, it reaches back to my father. In the process of writing a book about my father’s interaction with short term mission trips in Costa Rica, I recalled that when daddy became a pilot, he looked into becoming a missionary pilot. He loved flying and wanted to serve using this passion and new skills. Daddy was also a really good mechanic. He had an instinct for getting things to work.

It seemed a perfect fit, but was not to be. Before finding out what all was involved, he thought that there might be a way to do short term flying missions, but aviation mission does not have a provision for short term pilots. In addition, he was not:

  • a certified air frame and power-plant aircraft mechanic,
  • nor a certified flight instructor
  • or did he possess a license for instrument flying,

all requirements to serve on the MAF aviation team. Daddy found another way to serve in short term missions but, as a result of our conversations, the seed of aviation as a mission tool was planted.

Even Earlier

I had heard of the story of Nate Saint, Jim Elliott, Peter Fleming, Roger Youderian, and Ed McCully who were martyred in Ecuador in 1956.  I was just three years old. Their stories are told in many different publications, books and even films. There are links to a few in this BLOG, but a google search will bring up many more. No matter your world view, it is worth your while to become acquainted with both the event that resulted in the death of these fine men, as well as the redemptive aspects of the after stories that continue to unfold, even today. It is remarkable.

A Woman Gets It Going…..

Another aspect of mission avaition’s beginnings is the fact that it was a woman, Betty Greene, who flew the first MAF mission. She had served during WWII in as a Women Air Force Service Pilot (WASP) and opened up regions for MAF to serve particularity in Peru and Indonesia. As a woman pilot, I cannot help but gasp in wonder at her courage, skill and dedication.

The Personal Connect Begins

My personal interaction with MAF took on a more direct line in 1993. It was that August I was privileged to be one of four United State Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) technical technical experts selected to journey to the country of Madagascar. We were to conduct an assessment of their civil aviation system. I went as the air traffic expert, along with experts in the areas of:

  • airport operations,
  • aircraft airworthiness
  • aircraft operations.

It was a two week  assignment.

As we began to ask the questions required in order to complete the assignment, we had the sense that we were not getting the entire picture. So we headed to the airport to ask the folks that used the system for their perspective: the pilots and mechanics. We talked informally with airline and general aviation folks.

Included in this group were some of the MAF pilots who flew to the remotest parts of this island nation, in many cases, in response to life and death situations. It was through this contact that I became acquainted with and supporters of one of the missionary pilot families posted there. With this connection we received regular updates and information of the work done around the world by this organization.

Backstories Continue

In the 1990s, MAF celebrated their 50 year anniversary as an organization. A wonderful book outlining the history of MAF was published and I read it. Wow. Through reading this I received an even wider and deeper view of this work. This included the strong connection with the Cessna Aircraft Company based in Wichita, Kansas.

Then in 2005, the movie “End of the Spear” was released.   It tells the story of Nate Saint and the others who sacrificed their lives while serving in Equador.  Because of my reading the history of MAF, we made a point to see the movie.

I stayed in touch with the pilots we supported. They came to Wichita to visit once. During their visit they put me in touch with an MAF advocate in the area and we got acquainted as well. Pilots love to compare stories, and I am no exception, but when chatting with these folks I listen. Nothing I have ever done in aviation is even worth mentioning next to what these pilots do – and, I might add, with an awesome safety record. These are not bush pilots, these are professional pilots who happen to do a lot of flying in the bush.

Aviation Safety

Because of MAF’s aviation core, it is unavoidably involved with the FAA, particularly the regulatory and certification side. Although I was not a part of the FAA regulatory world, I was drawn to the reality that MAF, from its start gave safety the utmost place in their strategy.

This was made very clear to me as I listened to the the audio version of book, Jungle Pilot. This work is compiled from the letters that Nate Saint wrote from Shell Mara in Equator.  His letters are filled with a passion to serve but always with an eye on mitigating the risk encountered daily.  These were pilots in the military during WWII.   They brought with them the training, skills and instinct for flying in high risk situations, yet doing all they could to manage risk. That core continues in the organization today.

And The Journey Continues….

In all my interactions with MAF, I am moved by the love, humility and professionalism with which they serve.  The mission statement of MAF, countless stories and testimonials on their web site speaks better than this space allows.

As we toured the MAF Headquarters, these connections, and intersections with MAF came flooding back to me. In my Stonebridge, MAF is a part of my faith, family and flight stones. It connects to my past, present and yes, future. On the latter, things have accelerated significantly. To find how how that acceleration landed me in Sentani Indonesia, you will have to read coming posts.

Giving A Voice To The Voiceless – The Christmas Shepherds

The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. – Neil Gaiman

voiceThe story of the nativity would be incomplete without the shepherds “keeping watch over their flocks by night”.  They were the first to hear the announcement, beyond the immediate family, that something extraordinary had occurred.   A very special baby boy had been born.

I have heard this story for as long as I can remember.  As a child we read the Christmas story in our home every Christmas Eve, heard it at church and even reenacted it as a drama to the best of our ability.  But who were these men?  Why shepherds?

Without A Voice
Shepherds have an ebb and flow of status in the Bible.  In the early days of the Patriarchs they held an important place.  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (renamed Israel) were all nomadic and owned large herds and flocks.  Along with provision and lively hood, these were a sign of wealth of the day.  However, their neighbors, the Egyptians, did not hold shepherds in high regard at all, and when Israel devolved into slave status in Egypt, it seems this attitude toward shepherding remained with them even after their exodus.
The Shepherd Psalmist King’s Voice
Still there were shepherds.  In the time of David, he was found tending sheep when anointed to the King.  The fact that he was the youngest and his station in the family not highly regarded, indicates the low status of those who tended these woolly necessary creatures.  As David rose to Kingship, so did the status of the shepherd for a time.
However, at the time of the birth of Jesus,  shepherds were regarded about the same as the tax collector (think IRS).  They were not allowed to even speak in a court of law.  They had no voice.  The particular shepherds on that special night, were tending the flocks for the temple.  These were the sheep used in the daily required temple sacrifice.  One would think they would have some kind of status, but apparently not.
A Voice Is Who We Are

Continue reading Giving A Voice To The Voiceless – The Christmas Shepherds

The Adventure And Risk of Transitions

Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want. – Kristin Armstrong

transitions

We just had the first hard freeze of the season.  Although summer ended and autumn officially began September 21, October is the time of year the seasonal change starts to show in my part of the world.

External changes appear as:

  • a burst of growth in the annual potato vines and other bedding plants in the garden
  • the kitchen garden also has its last burst of production
  • a subtle tinge of yellow appears in the ash tree on the property
  • daylight hours slowly beginning to wane

The latter triggers some internal changes for me:

  • my energy level starts to wane with the daylight and adjustments are made in my diet to compensate
  • attention is given to getting things in order for the holiday and winter season.  I guess it is a sort of fall sorting and cleaning.
  • I begin to think about the closing out of one year and beginning a new – yes, already.
Routine Transitions

All  of this in response to a seasonal transition.  But what about the broader scope of transitions?  In some ways we are always in transition.  We:

  • arise in the morning, live out a day, then head back to sleep
  • go to work, move from one activity to another, then back to our nests at home
  • get in our cars, drive somewhere, take care of business then return

Most transitions are routine, efficient, even mindless with little risk.  However, what about transitions:

  • from a familiar routine to a new one?
  • that involve more than just you?
  • that involve some or a lot of risk?
  • that a moving into an unknown situation?
Transition Risks

Continue reading The Adventure And Risk of Transitions

Chance Encounters, Connections and History

encounters

Recently while my husband was blowing off our sidewalks, he spotted a gentleman looking over our house from the curb.  This is not an uncommon occurrence, since the house, even in its current “need for a redo state”, is quite striking.  A conversation was begun that lasted, again not uncommonly, for a while. Chance encounters making connections.
It turns out this man had known Dorothy Elisabeth Steinbuchel Wilson Gouldner in her later years as a neighbor.  He was currently reading her book, A Living Gravestone, about the family and the house.  We do not have a house number – this would not have been a part of its original decor – so he wanted to ensure he had the right location.
We shared stories and information and told him of the research I was doing to update and even validate the information in the book.  The Foundations pillar of this BLOG is devoted primarily to that endeavor along with a place to share progress on the historic restoration  when it begins in earnest.
Encounters With New Details
The visitor said Elisabeth was very proud of that book.  In addition, he mentioned that Olive Ann Beech’s daughter helped her to get it to publication.   Hummmm, a detail I was unaware of before, since there is no mention of this in the book by way of  acknowledgment.  I am aware, however, from the book The Barnstormer and the Lady, that Elisabeth’s brother-in-law, Rene Goulnder was Walter Beech’s personal physician.  His signature is on Mr. Beech’s death certificate. Thus the probable connection.

Continue reading Chance Encounters, Connections and History

A Return to Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF)

This will re-publish as I make a return trip to Mission Aviation Fellowship -MAF.  This time I am staying for  a few days to volunteer in the fabrication shop.  I am excited.  Following is the background for this trip from a previous post.
Many of the things that form our lives rest in the background.  They crisscross our paths making significant deposits in quiet ways.   On a trip to the northwest last year, we took time to visit the headquarters of Mission Aviation Fellowship in Nampa, ID.  We have been supporters of MAF for over 20 years, but my connection to this organization goes back much further.
After our visit, I began to reflect exactly how far back this connection does go.  It, in fact, it goes back to my father. As I wrote about my father’s interaction with short-term mission trips in Costa Rica, I recalled something.  When daddy first became a pilot, he looked into becoming a missionary pilot.  He loved flying and wanted to serve using this passion and his piloting skills.
He was also a skilled mechanic and had an instinct for getting things to work.  It seemed a perfect fit.  He made inquiries thinking there might be a way to do short-term flying missions.  MAF mission did not have a provision for short term pilots.  In addition, he was not a certified air-frame and power-plant aircraft mechanic, nor a certified flight instructor nor did he possess a license for instrument flying.  These are all requirements to serve on the MAF piloting team.  Daddy found another way to serve in short-term missions but, as a result of our conversations about this, the seed of aviation as a mission tool was planted inside me.

Continue reading A Return to Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF)

second amendment

Old Airports and Second Amendment Rights

“Your connections to all the things around you literally define who you are.”  – Aaron D. O’Connell
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
Over the years as I drove to and from the east side of Wichita on 13th street, I passed an odd building on the north side of the street next to the Ken-Mar shopping center.  For a while it was something called Sky Bowl, a bowling alley, but has since morphed into a furniture store.  At some point I discovered the building had begun its’ life as an airplane hangar on the now closed Wilson/ Ken-Mar airport. This made sense of the building itself and of the name “Sky Bowl”.  I was fascinated yet sad that a little airport was no more.
Lost Airports

second amendment

There are, in fact, dozens of these stories in an around the Wichita area and well beyond.  I am in possession of a copy of the 1949-1950 Kansas Airport Directory listing the Kansas airports of that time.  The Ken-Mar Airport’s last listing is in this edition, as it was closed around 1950.  What is known of its history, and the history of many other lost airports, can be found at a site:  Abandoned & Little Known Airfields.  The site is maintained by Paul Freeman and a group of other “aviation archaeologists” , on a donation basis.  A true labor of love.
The Second Amendment and An Airport Converge
My husband and I go to the Ken-Mar area for two reasons:  first, one branch of one of our bank is located there and second, it is also the location of the shooting range we are members of:  The Bullseye.
The latter reason is directly related to the Ken-Mar airport since The Bullseye is located in one of the other former airplane hangars.  In 2016 we fulfilled a long-time desire to exercise our second amendment rights.  We acquired concealed and carry permits for handguns.  We gifted each other the class, handguns and the necessary equipment for Christmas. Periodically, we dutifully clean our guns and head to the former airport now shooting range to stay proficient.
When one drives into the residential area, behind the shopping area, the cluster of 1940’s concrete structures makes sense once you realize you are at the southwest corner of what was once the 2600′ north south runway of the old Ken-Mar airport.  I can’t help but look up as we enter hesecond amendment structure and imagine Piper Cubs landing or taking off.  As a private pilot and an American citizen, who cherishes both our freedom to fly and right to bear arms, I find a comforting connection between the two at the Ken-Mar location.
At Risk
I also find it interesting that these two freedoms, rights and privileges are constantly at risk.  They are unique to this nation with roots as deep as her birth and inspired from a profound place.  Exercising these privileges by taking to the sky and through target practice is my personal stand for these privileged freedoms.
Now please excuse me while I go clean my gun and head to the old airport.
Take time today to reflect on one or two freedoms you cherish.  What will you do today to exercise those freedoms?  Please comment below. 

Hello Summer! Simplicity and Stones.

“If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe and Aloysius in a good temper…”  ―Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

summerWhen one is retired from working as an employee, you would think that the seasons, including summer, would all blend together.  I have found that while my time is more flexible, it is not entirely disconnected from the rhythm of the of the seasons

We are not big vacation takers, but prefer to do mini-trips.  Some of this has to do with the amount of travel I did with my work before retiring.  It was great.  But even then, we road warriors reluctantly tolerated the non-frequent flyers at the airports headed off for their summer adventure.

In addition, since I flew, literally, around the world for my vocation, a hop in the car for a couple of nights at a quiet Kansas B &B is so much less complicated.  I have been blessed to see a lot of places, and although there are places I would still like to visit, a good book, my journal and quiet are my version of vacation for the moment.

Summer Service

I have one trip planned for August.  To return to Mission Aviation Fellowship in Idaho.  I get to volunteer at MAF headquarters for a few days.  This is a desire I have had in my heart for many years.  It happens to coincide with an extended family picnic on my mother’s side of the family.  This trip touches several of the stones in my bridge.

Other than that, we are hitting the house renovation hard, another stone:  foundations.  Several projects are gaining traction with some summer help.  Hallelujah!

What are your plans for the summer?  Please share how you enjoy this season of the year in the comments below.