Getting dunked in the solo tank is a tradition most, if not all, Air Force pilots experience after their first solo in a military aircraft. It seems Mission Aviation Fellowship has a similar tradition.
You can see the pictorial story of Aaron Hoffman, a recent arrival to Kalimantan, who landed his float plane after his first in-country solo as a mission pilot.
He probably should have worn his life vest.
Kalimantan is in Indonesia, and shares an island with Brunei.
The blog of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) describes how the group took a 1980 Cessna 206 and broke it down to its smallest components in an extensive rebuild effort:
[The] 1980 Cessna TU206, named HC-BMO, served 20 years in Ecuador… After accumulating almost 10,000 flight hours (about 1.4 million miles) we reassigned it to Africa. But first, we routed it through Nampa for a new engine and a major airframe overhaul…
We drilled out and replaced over 11,000 rivets to expose and check every square inch of every surface. We inspected each Continue reading →
Each of our pilots has an iPad. Flight documents are generated by our flight scheduler using Wingman, a flight operations planning tool developed by MAF…Additional documents including manuals, airport strip charts, airstrip photos, and other important references are available in electronic form.
In the morning before a pilot takes off on his first flight he connects to the wireless network with his iPad, and synchronizes it with the file server. In mere seconds he has all the flight documents he needs for the day…
“A lot of people told me I couldn’t be both a Marine and a missionary,” [LCpl Brady] Knowles said before he left for the LDS Church’s Indianapolis Mission last year. “But when I talked to the Marine recruiters and told them I was going to serve a mission, they told me it could be worked out. And it was.”
Former MAF pilot John Miller tells a fascinating “So there I was…” about losing his engine in Indonesia:
Without warning, the plane began to shake as smoke fumes poured into the cabin.
Since they say in-flight fires are no fun, I quickly shut down the sick engine and watched, fascinated, as a wayward chunk of metal punched a hole in the engine cowling. My not-so-trusty Cessna had just become a powerless glider with two anxious occupants over not-so-friendly real estate below. Yes, I’d say this was definitely turning out to be an abnormal flight with lots of distractions.
Read more of the story and the comments below, which expand on this and related stories.
Missionary couple Jay and Katrina Erickson were killed in a recent crash in Zambia after working at a local hospital. Jay Erickson was reportedly the pilot, trained by Moody Bible Institute’s Moody Aviation. The aircraft was a 6-seat Cessna.
The couple were in their 20s and had left their two young daughters at the hospital:
Their daughters, 2-year-old Marina and 1-year-old Coral, had stayed behind at the hospital. Katrina Erickson’s parents, who live in Wisconsin, are preparing to travel to Zambia with Jay Erickson’s mother to reunite with their granddaughters, said Pastor Ron Ulmer of Hillyard Baptist Church on Monday.
While there are no further details, it remains true that mission aviation — arguably, even civil aviation — is a dangerous profession. Though they are largely unknown and under-appreciated, missionary aviators support missions around the world.
Ever wonder how they get small, limited-range General Aviation aircraft to the mission field?
They put’em in a box.
Mission Aviation Fellowhip (MAF) has a short write-up on boxing up a Cessna 182 before it is shipped to Mozambique.
Hugh Beck pokes and prods the Cessna 182 like he’s a physician giving his patient a physical. No joint overlooked, no piece misplaced. Meticulousness is required when you’re about to put a plane in a box and ship it 8,000 miles to be reassembled in the jungle…
The Mission Aviation Fellowship blog has an impressive blow-by-blow day in the life of an MAF pilot in the Amazon. With a 0635 show at the airport and an 1805 last landing (2 minutes prior to sunset), the day is filled not only with a variety of sorties, but also with challenges from the weather, diversion, passengers, and emergencies.
Though abbreviated, it makes for an extremely educational peek into the work of mission aviation.
The previous article began to answer the question Can a Christian Serve in the US Military? by addressing the common pacifist criticisms of military service by Christians. This article asks the more direct question: Does the Bible actually support military service by Christians?
Men of God, and War
Despite the sometime pacifist assumptions placed upon Christian belief, many Biblical men of old and renown have been soldiers and still been faithful men of God – and nowhere was their military service questioned. Abraham, whom God selected to bless as the father of His chosen nation, was one of the earliest “generals” (Genesis 14:14-15). Moses and Joshua both led the Israelites in countless battles. God Himself ordered the Israelites to battle, and commanded His own army, for that matter (2 Kings 6:17). David, a “man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), said that God “trained his hands for battle” (Psalm 18:34). David not only fought in war but also participated in some of the most brutal acts of slaughter recorded in the Bible (for example, when he arbitrarily killed every two lengths of the defeated Moabites (2 Samuel 8 )). In the military tradition of “praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,” Nehemiah “prayed to…God and posted a guard,” and told the leaders of Jerusalem to “remember the Lord…, and fight” (4:9, 14).
Missionary aviation is a unique environment in which to operate, leading to the Top 10 Aviation Tips, brought to you by Mission Aviation Fellowship:
10: Always let your ducks go to the restroom before boarding.
…I ended up loading my Cessna 206 with 60 ducks that were in several cages. As I was closing up the cargo doors, one of the ducks relieved himself through the slats in the cage, dousing my pants. The flight was only 24 minutes long, but that was the smelliest 24 minutes of flight time I can remember. I flew with my head up in the air vent the whole time. – Mike Brown
Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of Billy Graham and current Pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, has an interesting article with application to Christians in all walks of life, including the military:
In becoming a Christian, we don’t need to retreat from the vocational calling we already have-nor do we need to justify that calling, whatever it is, in terms of its “spiritual” value or evangelistic Continue reading →
When the media mentions “military” and “missionary” in the same sentence, it often causes a near cacophony of criticism from conspiracy theorists about attempts at religious world domination. Recent accusations of impropriety make the sensitivity of the subject evident.
A few decades ago, it wasn’t so.
General Douglas MacArthur, one of the few men to reach the nation’s highest military rank of General of the Armies, was the American face of reconstruction of post-war Japan. The self-proclaimed “soldier of God and the republic” famously encouraged the influx of “a thousand missionaries” into Japan in the hopes that Christianity would overcome Shinto Buddhism in the Japanese isles. Documents from the Truman library reportedly indicate the Joint Chiefs, the Secretary of the Army, and Truman himself supported MacArthur in this endeavor. (Most modern summaries indicate the “Christianization” of Japan largely failed.)
Such an emphasis was likely influential on military members themselves. A recent article in The Deseret News of Utah highlights the Mormon soldiers who “spread the gospel in post-war Japan.” Among those is the current President of the Mormon church, Continue reading →