December was a month filled with mostly hanger duties for me (Greg) however as the Christmas season approached we were able to get a couple planes back online. Which meant I got to put my captain shirt on for a couple days. I may not have gotten a lot of flying done this month but the flights are ones that I will not soon forget.
1 – RTS (return to service) test flight after an inspection. This particular flight lasted about 45 mins longer than it needed to as we circled on downwind waiting our turn to land.
2 – Double Wamena run. We don’t do Wamena runs regularly because there are big commercial operators making the run several times a day so to have two in a week is not normal. So to do two in in one day was very strange. The second run was special in that it was to move friends of ours to their new home in Wamena. Landing time 16:10 in Sentani, the latest to-date not to stand in the record books long thou. That being said I’m typically at the flight line at 05:00 for those thinking must be nice to be done work in the early afternoons, also not looking for sympathy I enjoy my early mornings ya I’m strange ;-).
3 – Standard ops flight with some visitors from America along for the ride. This flight involved a diversion due to weather and then later another diversion of another aircraft to pick up my passengers after I discovered my plane had a cut tire that was serious enough that I would need to ferry the plane back empty or wait for a tire to be brought out. Thankful for the Lord’s extra protection for my passengers and I. Detailed inspection of the tire after it was removed found that the tire had been cut through into and left a small mark on the inner tube.
4 – Sunday night I was contacted by another MAF pilot asking if I could adjust my Monday schedule to meet in Mulia for a patience/passenger transfer unto Sentani. Departed with a good weather report from my first planned destination, arrived to find it fogged in. Diverted to Wamena for more fuel and wait out the fog. Fog lifted and I carried on to back to Mamit to drop my load then continued on to Mulia and picked up the patience and missionary family from the patience’s village. I arrived about an hour before the other plane that was shuttling everyone out of their village. It’s a very short and flat runway and even the Kodiak has a large load cut for take-off which meant he needed to make two trips to get everyone out. After getting everyone one on board, back to Sentani we go. Upon arrival there was a pretty good traffic jam over the “Toare” (navigational fix off the end of runway 30). We had to fly almost to Toare before I was cleared for the visual approach. The day is already getting a bit long. One more flight on the schedule to Bokondini delivering solar panels equipment to a missionary family there. Also a long for the ride an MAF school teacher and his wife, wanting to see some of the interior. All went as planned until the trip home. Apparently the traffic jam over “Toare” never cleared or something. So off to “Toare” we go to join the stack of airplanes all waiting their turn to land. Apparently there was 7 of us stacked one above each other. The weather was pretty good so we could see some of the planes above and below us. With all the waiting and unexpected delays landed shortly before 17:00 making this now my longest day. But a special one which I will explain later.
5 – This day I also had another HIS (International School here in Sentani) school teacher and her mother along to see Papua. And of course this day again was filled with weather diversion to Wamena, pressures of impending Wamena airport closure due to the President coming for a visit. On the way back to Senatani an unexpected closure there due to a demonstration on the runway which required a second diversion for the day, then an hour wait in Senggi for the demonstrations to end and the airport to reopen. Needless to say I cancelled my second outbound flight that day, I was done by the time we got home.
6 – Almost an uneventful day of flying my schedule, no weather diversions, no riots on the runways, no Presidential visits, last day of 2015 no problem right. Last outbound for the day/month/year, I had a young Indonesia freshly minted private pilot on board wanting to get a taste of what we do. Seems pretty harmless, getting in the airplane he pulled his seat up close to the controls, still not to unusual as it was conveyed to him that once things get under way and we are at a safe altitude and I’m not crazy busy with radio communications he will likely get to do some flying. Well on take off just after I had set the power to take off power and removed my hand off the power lever and placed it in position just above it without having contact with it (normal ops) my passenger felt it necessary to help by reaching over and further adding power. Which is a big problem, to avoid getting too technical any additional power above take off power for any length of time ie 2 seconds or less depending on the amount of additional power requires the engine to be removed and sent off for overhaul. Thankfully this all happened on the large runway of Sentani and it was early in the roll before the ram air effect added to his addition of power. No exceedance were experienced for the engine, maybe some blood pressure exceedance in me though. After getting away from the airport and the radio less busy I did let him do some flying and we had a discussion on the differences between training aircraft and larger aircraft power management and availability. One thing I forgot and should have mentioned thou was cockpit respect in that you don’t touch anything unless you have been given permission by the PIC or are the PIC (pilot in command). A conversation for next time.
Thankful for the safety and many memorable experiences these past couple weeks. And in closing I want to finish the story about the patience I helped pick up during #4. The patience turned out to be a young mother to be. Her water had broke 2 days prior with no labour at this point, which for those that are unaware me include, this is a bad situation that could lead to infections and death of the child and mother if not treated. We arrived safely in Sentani Monday early afternoon, I continued on with my schedule not knowing the outcome, which is quite typical. Sunday morning (yesterday) I got an early birthday present. During the service I notice a Papuan mother feeding her child sitting next to the missionary family that had come out with the patience. Not knowing for sure I approached the family and confirmed that yes this was the mother and child that had come out on the flight on Monday. The baby boy was a bit premature but healthy none the less. His name is Mike pronounced “Mik-eh” in the local language. Not everyday you get to look a wonderful blessing from the Lord in the eyes like that and know that you had a small special part in that blessing.
Thank you all for your prayers and support so that our family can continue to serve in this way.
May you experience many new blessings from our Lord and Saviour this new year.
The Dole Clan