Pilot Training
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Pilot training

What training does a missionary pilot receive?

There seems to be a bit of interest in what is involved in training a missionary pilot for bush flying. This page is an attempt to answer some of the questions about missionary pilot bush flying.


bulletFlight training
bulletMechanic training
bulletMissions training- NTM's practical training in missions
bulletBush flight training--short strips, canyon turns, high altitude flying (esp. normally aspirated), air drops, strip checkout, etc.
bulletOn the job training--PNG tests, pilot check out on strips, sloped runways, routes, weather.


Though most pilots are commercial pilots before they are accepted for training they are usually quite rusty by the time they complete the preliminary missionary training.

Usually a pilot who has been accepted for training will be able to get checked out right away in one or two of the aircraft based at the NTM Aviation HQ in McNeal, AZ. Historically flight training at NTMA has been a bit sporadic as it is dependent upon which experienced pilot is available at the time to do the teaching between worldwide travels. Time between flights is well spent with preparing aircraft for service overseas and getting better acquainted with the support staff on the home end. Flight training according to the curriculum may not get seriously under way until it is near time for the pilot to go overseas. One reason for this is that the pilot needs to be up to speed or current in the type of aircraft he will be flying when he arrives in his country of service. 

In most countries where NTMA serves the pilot will need to maintain his own aircraft. Time spent in Arizona working in the maintenance shop will be of great benefit after arrival overseas. Knowing the personalities of the guys back in the home shop and letting them get to know him will help the trainee in long distance communications regarding maintenance difficulties. Learning from the experience of those who have "been there, done that" overseas will likely help the trainee in similar situations in his new ministry. 

When the flight training commences it will often start with landings at the home airport and a refresher course on basic skills. There are a series of cross country flights in the curriculum. The trainee will receive instruction in low-level cross country flying  - possibly without navaids - using dead reckoning, time and heading, with position fixing in reference to visible landmarks. There will be training in mountain flying, canyon turns, high altitude performance, ridge crossing, box canyons and short runways. Landings at the local airstrip involves light loads on long runways and progressing to heavy loads on short, narrow runways. Attention will be given maintaining the center of each runway, landing with consistency and precision using a "string approach". The training comes to an end with practice at the "graduation strip" where the pilot lands a Cessna 185 on a short, sloped, narrow, rough, high altitude airstrip with a box canyon approach. 

Depending on the country of service, a pilot will likely have further training after arrival overseas. In Papua New Guinea (PNG) the pilot receives about three months of flying under supervision with further training periodically as the pilot gains experience. Again emphasis is placed on mountain flying, bad weather alternatives, high altitude practices, precision landings on short, rough, sloped strips, and learning the language, regulations and radio procedures of PNG.


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