What's in a Day?
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What can one expect in a day of jungle flying?

That's part of the fun of this job! You never know what a day will hold! No two are alike! We like to plan, but plans frequently change. Take, for instance, the day when the Aziana man was shot with an arrow, or the time we slept on the airstrip at Sule, or the one hour flight that lasted three days because of weather after landing at the destination, or the day the winds were horrendous at Sindeni. Then there was the cylinder cracked in the engine, and those days when the Interface teams flew out to the tribes, and the day the Mok believers told me about ordaining leadership in their fourth church! 

We normally like to get going about 7 am.   After a short drive to the missionary supply store, we meet with the supply buyer, talk about the flights for the day, sign Dangerous Goods declaration, exchange operational messages, load the cargo for the first flight of the day into the cargo van and commit the day to God in prayer. Then we load up the passengers and drive down to the airport.  At the airport, we unlock everything, then the pilot gives the airplane a pre-flight inspection while the help loads cargo from the van onto carts. The cargo is loaded into the aircraft and secured, then the airplane is pulled out of the hangar.  After last minute fuel adjustments the passengers are loaded into aircraft, secured and briefed. A moment of prayer to acknowledge God in our work, then start-up and take-off.  

The flying is usually between 35 to 75 minutes each way.  Upon landing we usually spend 20 to 30 minutes on the ground unloading, talking to  passengers, missionaries and tribesmen, loading and re-fueling the aircraft.  Then we fly back to home base for refueling and putting together another load of passengers and cargo.  

We try to keep the flying routine.  Routine helps make the unusual more readily identifiable and thus reduces unnecessary risks to the jungle flying.  There are plenty of other factors to interrupt the routine.  Unusual winds, poor weather or visibility, people or animals on the runway, flooding of the airstrip, medical emergency diversions or changing needs of passengers can all interrupt the routine. 

Flying involves a great deal of communication!  The pilot starts the day by talking to his wife! :) This is important because he has to come home at the end of his day!  Not only that but she is his point of contact by radio throughout the day.  So, she needs to know what his plan is; where he will be and when so that she is not caught by surprise during the day.  The pilot files a flight plan with the government flight-following service, so that the government personnel know what to expect.  Then the pilot communicates with the supply store manager about the weights, routing, passengers and requirements of each flight that day and the days ahead. Next the pilot communicates by radio with missionaries near the intended destinations so as to aware of expected weather en-route and upon landing. At the airport, the pilot communicates with the security guard and personnel loading the aircraft.  Before take-off the airport control tower personnel need to know the pilot's intentions so as to give clearances.  Twenty-five miles from home base, the government personnel are standing by on HF radio for position, altitude and ETA information. This is also a good time to give an ETA to the pilot's wife and the missionaries at the destination.  The pilot listens to two or three radios simultaneously so as to be aware of other traffic and avoid potential mid-air collision. Arrival over the destination airstrip require a whole new set of communications so that everyone knows the position of aircraft.  On the ground the pilot communicates with people about the destination of cargo coming off of the aircraft and about cargo and passengers intended to go on the aircraft.  Well, that is just the first flight!! Anyone know where there is a course on communication??

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