SmythsInPNG's Weblog

July 5, 2009

July 5, 2009

Filed under: Missions — smythsinpng @ 11:48 am

Monday I spent the day planning, answering questions, working on loose ends and studying; it seems that some of my biennial and bi-annual reading is coming due about the same time and I have an instrument check ride for which to study. 

Morning Weather Usually Best

Morning Weather Usually Best

Tuesday was a normally abnormal flying day.  Somehow I missed putting the cover over the pitot tube, so an itsy-bitsy spider decided the hole was a wonderful home.  It took about half an hour to remove the spider and the remnants of his mud home out of the pitot tube. Meanwhile my co-worker / supply buyer loaded the airplane with all of the supplies for my destination. 

I finished my preflight checks and started the aircraft.  I was expecting passengers to return with me on each of the two flights. Nearing completion of my checklists I called Diana and advised her that I was taxiing the aircraft for departure to my destination.  She responded that there had been an accident on a four wheeler near the tribal location and that some of my passengers at my destination had gone to assist the injured.  Also, she said I should expect to transport the injured for medical care.

Ok!  Now what?  A bunch of logistical questions came to mind.  The truck that had delivered the first load of passengers to my destination was back-tracking down the old jungle logging roads. Do I unload the cargo here and go to the destination empty?  Do I go to the destination as is and hope the intended passengers have planned an alternate way to handle the cargo?  We can’t just leave the cargo at the airstrip unsecured.  What is the extent of injury?  Are the injuries life-threatening?  Is medical transportation time critical?  What is the extent of blood loss?  What care have they received?  These were all things that might affect my next course of action.

Communications were next to impossible; which means we know someone was saying something but could not hear enough of a sentence to understand or they could not hear us at all.  I decided to go to the destination immediately to avoid further delay and make inquiries along the way.  Usually reception improves as the morning progresses and as the aircraft moves closer to the other parties. 

The weather was good with indications that the high humidity would soon build into thunderstorms and rain showers, especially over the many mountain peaks. 

En-route communications improved enough to determine that the injured had broken legs.  The injured would not be able to arrive at the airstrip in time for the first flight. The injuries were serious but not immediately life threatening, so I should not wait on the ground at the destination but return for the second load of passengers and the injured as soon as possible.

Upon arrival at the destination parking bay I was greeted by an aggressive dog which mistook the aircraft for a car to chase.  I immediately cut the fuel to the engine. The dog would not have survived if he had continued his charge. Propellers don’t stop immediately and, if they do, it usually means three months waiting for a new engine and propeller to arrive; provided the thirty to forty thousand dollars is available for replacing or repairing them.  Hitting a dog with the propeller is considered a sudden stop, so it was definitely something to avoid. The prop stopped turning. With the aircraft sitting on the runway, I set the parking brake, unfastened my seatbelt and proceeded to find several business size rocks to encourage the dog along, but by then the dog had lost interest and was chasing something else far away.  I got back into the aircraft and started the engine to continue movement toward the parking bay. 

My first load of passengers at the destination advised me that they had just arrived after their long drive over rough logging roads when they heard about the emergency. Their driver immediately returned whence he came to assist the injured.  They knew little more due to the poor radio reception.  We loaded up the cargo and passengers, gave the safety briefing – together because several of my passengers thought they might have my briefing memorized – the departed to “civilization.”  I only counted two pigs and a dog as we taxied out onto the runway.  The flight to “civilization” and back was routine except for the communication about the outboard motor.  No, don’t send the motor. They want no cargo!  There is no truck for transporting it to the tribe. … Yes, they want the outboard motor! The truck with the injured can transport the motor.  … In the end we took the outboard motor.

Bush Ambulance and Truck

Bush Ambulance and Truck

The injured were waiting in the pickup truck when I arrived the second time. These were Bible teachers who were en-route to teach in another village when they lost control of the four wheeler.  We unloaded the cargo while discussing how to fit five passengers in the aircraft when two had broken legs. Often we have a separate medical flight so that the injured may lie down.  These guys had spent two hours in a truck getting to the airport and could sit up.  We worked out a scenario which was reasonable and safe. The next discussion had to do with how to load the injured into the aircraft.  After moving the seats around and removing a door we seated the injured and supported the splints, then loaded the remaining passengers and made sure everyone was adequately secured and briefed.

Careful ... Careful!

Careful ... Careful!

We requested an ambulance to meet us at the airport, but by then it was lunch time and one cannot expect to reach emergency services for an hour or more after noon.  The request did finally go through to the appropriate office but the ambulance never did arrive.  We found alternate means of transportation for the injured. 


Alternate Ambulance

Alternate Ambulance

Please pray for these Kaulong Bible teachers as they recover from their injuries and for their families while they are away from home.  Pray for the villages where these men were teaching God’s word.  Pray for wisdom for the missionaries involved.

Beautiful Feet Which Bring Good News

Beautiful Feet Which Bring Good News

Later in the week I was able to go to town to get the vehicle inspected for license, registration and insurance renewal.  I used the opportunity to purchase some materials for the work team to use on the hangar projects coming up this month and to buy some parts to repair the vehicle.  I was able to acquire almost half of my shopping list. 

Busy Day in Town

Busy Day in Town

Today we had the privilege of leading our fellow missionaries in worship, scripture, singing and communion.  Diana played the piano keyboard to keep us on the right notes.  It is a privilege to serve with these people of heavenly vision and purpose!

Next week we will have several flights in coordination with helicopter shuttles.  Perhaps those flights will be so routine as to preclude blogging.


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