BB July 2015
It’s NOT About the Airplane…
The Idea: There are now four turbine powered Pilatus PC-6 aircraft in the Wycliffe fleet, all in Indonesia. While they are the perfect airplane for rugged mountainous terrain, sometimes carrying people and cargo can become a bit tricky. Because the passengers require access to the doors, cargo has to be loaded behind them. Heavy cargo can create a center of gravity too far back to fly safely. Often this restricted the maximum weight to less than the PC-6 could legally carry. Auxiliary under wing fuel tanks are mounted in such a way as to not affect the center of gravity. About six years ago, soon after acquisition of the turbine aircraft had begun, a JAARS pilot looked at one of the airplanes with its two bullet shaped fuel tanks and imagined, “On short trips, wouldn’t it be better to haul cargo instead of fuel?”
The Solution: Engineers in the JAARS aviation department were challenged with the development and certification of a cargo pod, identical in shape to the fuel tank.
- Design the pod molds and have prototypes manufactured so they could be tested.
- Find a similar B2/H4 model of the PC-6 to mount the pods and flutter test them to prove they would not shake the airplane when in flight. God provided a PC-6 through an owner who offered the keys to his $1,000,000 airplane. Hangered in the northeast, he said, “Go get it. You have previously shipped a PC-6 in a container to Indonesia. When your project is finished, pack it in a container and ship it to Hawaii.”
- Employ a FAA Designated Engineering Representative (DER) to perform the flutter test. The cost was estimated at $15,000. He insisted there be no activity in the hangar while the pod was caused to vibrate at various frequencies. The DER arrived and was given lodging at JAARS. It snowed that night. God provided three snow days. The hangar was empty of other activity. The tests were successful. Touched that JAARS was doing God’s work, he said, “If I invoice you for my service, I’m invoicing God!” He waived his service fee, freight expense for the test equipment, and travel expense. Again, God had provided.
- Several more years were needed to complete FAA certification, manufacture and installation of the cargo pods on each of the four aircraft in the fleet. Whether live pigs or boa constrictors, powdery sago meal, or bleeding meat, it can now ride in the easily cleaned pods instead of the cabin. This makes the pilots happy. The pods are so useful, they remain on the aircraft except for the few times the auxiliary fuel tanks are required for an extended flight.
The Final Outcome: After the flutter tests, the aircraft owner wasn’t ready to ship the aircraft to Hawaii. He said, “I might decide to send it to Arizona, instead. Could JAARS provide hangar space and service for the benefit of using it occasionally in training your PC-6 pilots?” That agreement continued for several years and had greatly enhanced the training program for turbine pilots and mechanics headed to Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
Late last year, the owner announced that he needed to sell the airplane for business reasons. He offered JAARS the option to purchase the aircraft far below its appraised value. The decision appeared to be a “no-brainer.” However, since there was no money for such a purchase, the decision was “No.” After the Aviation Department was given the news, an extended time was given to prayer. God had shown Himself so many times in the provision of this aircraft, how could this be His plan? Other than basic factory checkout, no similar training is available in this type aircraft. The owner was informed he should continue with marketing the aircraft. If you have ever read “Casey at the Bat,” you can know it was an equally dark day in JAARS Aviation. An appeal was made to the JAARS Senior Leadership Team to reconsider the decision not to purchase.
They responded with a request for more information: a detailed list of the unmet core goals that would be achieved by ownership; in lieu of ownership, a description of alternatives to achieve those core goals; a business plan detailing anticipated cost of operation with varying amounts of annual utilization beginning with only JAARS and other mission training; and, an exit option if sustainability could not be self-sufficient. Weeks of time passed as the report and its format were edited several times. The decision was reversed. There were no more available funds than before for the purchase. The owner agreed to a date of sale. Friday, before the scheduled Tuesday payment, God, in His perfect timing, provided JAARS with more than the needed funds. God had been at work before the PC-6 was offered for sale. It was another “God thing.” So the real story is not about a cargo pod, or the purchase of an airplane – it was about God showing Himself faithful and sufficient in His timing so that mission pilots and mechanics serving in turbine programs, not just in Indonesia, are better prepared to serve in the work of Bible translation.
Personal Financial Health Update
Thank you to our faithful prayer and financial partners. Your giving continues to allow us to serve in ministry. As we last shared, we were $500 per month below the budget Wycliffe has set for us. We give praise for three new financial partners. However, we also lost one, which yields a net gain of $100. In the past few months, Felton has been involved in presenting the need for the PC-6. Rachel has been recognized for her outstanding service to new members. As the Lord continues to give us good health, both of us plan to continue in our ministry positions. Some who received our newsletter were not aware the only funds we receive from Wycliffe are those that are given to Wycliffe with preference for our ministry. Pray for the many who are still waiting. Consider investing in the gift of God’s life changing Word by becoming a prayer and financial partner in our Wycliffe ministry.
Contact Felton and Rachel