Sunday, December 2, 2007

Summer Is Gone

Well, we're getting our first taste of Pacific Northwest winters. It snowed yesterday, but it's usually rain. They have this weather phenomenon out here called the "Pineapple Express" which I'm still not sure exactly why it's called that, but it basically amounts to A LOT of rain. So, I've taken up a few new hobbies, like cooking and writing newsletters. The Servant Wings airplanes are still keeping me pretty busy as well. We just finished up a 100 hour inspection on the 206 and started the same inspection on our 172. Normally these inspections take 3-4 days to complete when full days can be devoted to the project. But since we already have full time jobs elsewhere, we have to work on the weekends and evenings and consequently it takes weeks to complete. If we could get more individuals and churches to partner with us financially, we would be able to work less at the jobs we have to and more at the jobs preparing us for missions. Having the airplanes down for inspection means that we can't fly them until the inspection is complete. So the longer it takes, the longer we have to go without flying them. And that affects our timeline for joining MAF. But it is all in God's hands, and we will wait for His time.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Summer Hangs On

Actually, we've had some beautiful weather the past month or so. It hasn't rained much at all since our last 3 week stint. That makes for some great flying weather! Yesterday Joy and I took the 172 up to a town called Centralia for a bite to eat and to look around. Here's the airport through some clouds. There are rules about how close you can fly to the clouds so we had to dodge a few on our way out back to Vancouver.

We also spent Friday evening and much of Saturday at a short term mission training seminar and just happened across "Joy" street.

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Hope Floats"

Much has happened since my last post....

We've finally got the 206 flying again; it's good to jump back into a "truck" again. In fact, Joy took her first ride in a real live MAF 206 on Saturday, when I flew her out to the beach as part of our date night. The engine is running like a champ, and I'm becoming more and more familiar with the layout of the MAF cockpit and checklist arrangements. I was the first one to fly the aircraft since we re-installed the engine. It is a little nerve-racking when all those little moving parts haven't been time-tested find yourself eyeing those engine gauges a little more often than normal. I was involved in most of the work, and I feel 100% confident that it was done right. I'm finding more and more that the training I got from Moody was second to none. For the flight test, a Servant Wings instructor and I flew the airplane down to central Oregon to accomplish some maintenance at a shop there. My first 206 landing since June was what we in the pilot world call a "greaser." That basically equates to a landing as soft as a bed of pillows. And with the 15 knot crosswind we had, I'd say I got pretty lucky.
We also received an "official" MAF application. This marks the beginnings of our career in mission aviation. I also tentatively scheduled my T.E. (technical evaluation) for the last week of April through the first week of May. These two weeks will be split between intensive flight and maintenance evaluation, as well as pyschological exams and a host of interviews, etc.
That's it for now, sorry for the lack of pictures, we've had "technical difficulties" the past couple weeks. But more is to come.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Do What's Right

Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly. That was the theme for Missions Fest: Seattle. We attended the conference last weekend, along with several thousand fellow believers. It was a great time for Joy and I to meet new friends, visit with old ones, and listen to speakers with incredible testimonies. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the event, as I somehow misplaced our nice digital camera.
The 206 still hasn't roared to life yet; seems that no one really has time to work on it (which is really sad). And to my dismay, the 172 is "broken" as well. So, needless to say, the logbook hasn't been cracked in over a month.
Work at Hillsboro is also starting to slow down as the weather becomes less and less condusive to flight training. It is, however, great weather to practice instrument flying, and I'm hoping to log some good time "in the soup" throughout the winter.
Our hopes remain high, though, and we'll hopefully be formally applying to MAF in the near future, which is exciting!
Here's a little teaser. This was taken back in my Moody training during our mountain flying phase. The airstrip is surrounded on all sides by mountains, it is sloped, and has a big dog leg right in the middle. Right at the beginning of the clip you can see a road on the right side of the screen, that's our pre-determined "abort" point. Any time during the landing phase (before we cross the road) the landing can be called off, or aborted. But, once we pass that point, we are "committed" and must land the airplane no matter what happens. The reason for this is because of the mountains I spoke about earlier. If we tried to abort the landing after passing the road, the airplane would be unable to outclimb the terrain and we would crash into the hills. Many airstrips that I will fly into overseas are the same way, and some even have the abort point before you can even see the runway.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I neglected to mention that Joy was exhausted too...but that's because she helped install the exhaust system!!

Patience is a Virtue

So my wife says. The engine for the 206 is finally back in its home, where it will stay for another 2000 hours. Here I am just after we set it into place, checking to make sure all the cables and wires ("spaghetti" as we affectionately call it) are routed properly. If I look exhausted I probably am. Most of the work was done after a full day of working at Hillsboro.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's Finally Arrived!

No, not the engine for the 206...this...

Six years of hard work; I almost cried when I got it!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Foiled Again

Well, we just got word that the engine for the 206 didn't really get shipped when they said it did, so we won't be putting it in this weekend. Now the plan is next weekend.

I'm finding more and more every day how spoiled we all were at Moody. It's full of incredible people, amazing facilities, and a fleet of aircraft that are very well-maintained. It's true that sometimes you don't know how good you had it until you're gone. Here are some pictures of our Mountain Flying experience in the 206.
This one is a little asphalt airstrip tucked away in the Idaho mountains. The approach to the airport is a little interesting as you can see from the picture. You kind of have to follow the river until the runway comes into view. If you look in the center of the picture where the river bends right, the runway is just to the right of the river.
This was a really fun grass airstrip in Idaho. From the air, it looks like a dog leg, and when you takeoff you have to follow the bend (otherwise you run into the pines). And when you're landing there is no option of aborting the landing once you pass a certain point on final approach because the airplane wouldn't be able to outclimb the terrain beyond the airport. So as our instructors said, if a deer runs out onto the runway when you're about to land, let the 6 foot meat cleaver swinging out front take care of 'em. And finally, here's a short clip of one of the strips we practiced at....

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Much Needed Break

For Labor Day Weekend Joy and I were planning on going camping somewhere, but as usual, our plans changed and we decided to fly out to the coast and stay in a little town called Astoria for the night. It's only a 30 minute flight.

This picture was actually taken on the way back to Portland. Some very low clouds started blowing in off the ocean right after we took off.We couldn't help but drive out to the beach and take a quick stroll in the sand! All in all, it was a very relaxing weekend and a much needed break from routine.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

Not much happening this week. Joy and I are both looking forward to the weekend; we're not sure yet what we're going to do with our long weekend, but we'll think of something. Flying and camping are always a possibility. On Sunday we actually got to fly out to some of the grass airstrips we drove to last weekend. Other than that, it's been work, work, work. The 206 engine still isn't here (hence the title); it's unofficially scheduled to go back on next weekend.

Servant Wing's 206 served for many years in Venezuela. Once it reached 10,000 hours of service, it was sent back to the states for use here. Now it belongs to members of Servant Wings. Using this airplane will help prepare me for my technical flight evaluation with MAF next spring.

Since I've been talking about 206's the last couple weeks, here's one of Moody's 206's in action. Right after I graduated, I rented the airplane and took Joy out for a picnic lunch...enjoy!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Looking for Fun

This past week has been a busy one. Student pilots were breaking airplanes faster than we could fix them, and on top of our regular inspections, it got a little crazy at times. One student even managed to land so hard that he set off the airplane's emergency beacon (which usually only activates due to the G forces when an airplane crashes). I think I'd be seeing the Chiropractor after that one! I managed to take friday off though, and catch up on some much needed errands. In order to exercise the privileges of my Commercial Pilot's License, I'm required to complete a flight physical exam every 12 months. I am tested on vision (I have to have 20/20), colorblindness, and a variety of other factors. I was able to get that done, along with finishing up our summer newsletter (soon to come). The weekend has been flying bye, and today Joy and I went driving around the greater Vancouver area in search of small, grass and dirt airstrips that Servant Wings will be able to use as "training" airstrips once we get the engine back in the 206. Here are a couple that we found:
The airstrip above runs right through the clump of trees. The little white dots are all airplanes, and the big white dots are hangars. This will be a really good training airstrip for our soft-field takeoffs and landings. You can't tell from the picture, but the strip has a huge dip right in the middle of it where all the water collects after it rains, creating a huge mud puddle. There are also 100' trees at one end, making for a challenging approach and landing, not to mention taking off!

This airstrip is called "Fly For Fun," and is a rather benign strip to what Moody has prepared us for. There are no obstructions to avoid on takeoff or landing, but it is pretty short, testing our accuracy in being able to touch down in a very precise spot (try landing a 2 and 1/2 ton airplane in a 15 foot zone at 70 mph!) Each airstrip has its unique challenges, and both of these airstrips will provide excellent experience for me in preparation for field service. Hopefully we'll get the engine back from the overhaul shop soon. Right now there are no airplanes to fly...the 206 is waiting on the engine, and another member of Servant Wings has the 172 on a long cross-country trip to Arizona and back (which is why we drove to the airstrips instead of flying).

Tomorrow we will try yet another church. Pray that we will find a good church here to get involved in. It's stressful going from church to church every Sunday and not really feeling a part of anything.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Another Side of Mt. St. Helens

On Saturday, Joy and I hiked around the south and west sides of Mt. St. Helens. We snaked through the forests that weren't destroyed, and traversed long stretches of old lava beds. Here's one of them:
We saw a couple of waterfalls...some of which still run a dark chocolate brown from time to time because the volcanic ash.
At the day's end, we hiked about 7 miles. It was fun to get away from the noise of the city and smell some fresh air!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Another Weekend of R&R

The Northwest Mission Aviation Fly-In was a large success, but I am regretful that I didn't get any pictures of the event to share with you. We arrived Friday evening and stayed until Saturday evening, enjoying the seminars and meeting lots of new people from the mission community. In addition, I also got to log 2.3 hours of free flight time giving rides to prospective young mission aviators. I got to give them a real taste of what it's like to perform short field takeoffs and landings, and for some of them, it was their very first flight in an airplane! We returned to Vancouver Saturday evening in order to attend the Hillsboro Airshow, hosted right at the airport where I work.

The Navy's Blue Angels demonstration team gave a spectacular performance (as always), dazzling the crowd with precision and perfectly timed maneuvers that require years of practice to perform safely. Here they are performing one of their maneuvers. What a spectacular show!!

An F-117A "NightHawk" also showed up and performed a couple fly-by's. This $45 million dollar aircraft is unique not only in its strike capabilities, but also in its design. Not a single rounded surface exists on the aircraft, making it practically invisible to enemy RADAR. It is equipped with laser-guided weapons and can destroy enemy targets from hundreds of miles away.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Off to the Fly-In

We're driving to the "fly-in" but that's ok. Today was just another day at the shop; I completed a 100 hour inspection on an R-22 helicopter. Not too much was found wrong with it, so the inspection went pretty fast. Some of you might not know, but my Aircraft Mechanic's Licenses allow me to work on helicopters too, I didn't have to do any extra training in order to fix them.

Other than that, I serviced a light twin engine airplane, changed a starter, and went home a little early. But, not before visiting the flight line to see all the cool airplanes!!

Here's the A-10 "Warthog," the tanks worst nightmare, built to hunt down and destroy enemy ground units. Armed with one of the most powerful cannons ever, the Warthog fires armor piercing shells at a blistering 50 rounds per second! I'd be afraid of it too.

The U.S. Army's parachute team is a pretty cool sight to see. They jump out of a perfectly good airplane and do some stunts in the air before landing within a 15' circle...pretty good.

And last, but not least, the P-47 "Jug," arguably one of the toughest fighter/bomber aircraft of WWII. It's got a big, 2000 horsepower engine, and it's tough as nails. It "takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'"!!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Another Day, Another Dollar

It was a little hard to concentrate on my work today...the Navy's Blue Angels are in town, practicing for their upcoming shows this weekend. They made a terrible racket along with P-47 "Jugs," A-10 "Warthogs," and the C-130 "Hercules." My ears are still ringing from the noise of the jets, and I don't really remember what I worked on today. I'm sure it was the usual though...change some brake linings, inspect the airframe, change the oil, eat lunch and do it all over again. Tomorrow the Blue Angels will perform a full "practice show" while I'm trying to dutifully earn my paycheck, but I just can't help peeking out the hangar door every now and then.
I'll hopefully get to do some more flying this weekend at the Northwest Mission Fly-In. Many mission organizations and training schools will be in attendance, including Moody Aviation. So I'll get to see some of my old buddies and flight instructors. Should be always is.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

On My Way

Currently, I'm working as a full-time mechanic at Hillsboro Aviation. I've been performing routine inspections on airplanes as well as small helicopters. I also get to fly on the weekends--this weekend in particular we will be attending the Northwest Mission Aviation Fly-In where I'll get the chance to meet some new people from the mission community and give airplane rides here and there. I'm still trying to do as much flying as I can to get my flight hours up. (Right now I have 315 and MAF requires a minimum of 400 to join). We are still on track to join MAF next summer and it's exciting to see how far God has taken me in preparation for field service.

Last weekend Joy, her mom, a friend, and I flew the 172 to central Washington for a wedding, which (of course) was way better than driving =) I also got the opportunity to "tour" Mount St. Helens on a short scenic flight around the Portland area, and take some boy scouts for their first flight in a small airplane!