Been flying a heavier flight schedule than is normal for me the last two weeks...great fun. Also been really fun to get into a airstrip that I hadn't been to before...and an approach that has quickly become one of my favorites, perhaps the prettiest approach and landing in Papua. Last Thursday we were privileged to serve Lois Belsey--picking her up in the lowland airstrip of Faowi where she had been serving the Iau people and dropping her off at her 'home base' of Hitadipa, among the Moni people.
I had 'checked myself out' at Hitadipa the day before with no passengers, and on Thursday had another of our pilots along, riding shotgun. He took the following footage of the approach and landing. A common thing when landing at mountain airstrips out here is that you become committed to the landing at some point along the approach...which is to say that you've passed an airborne point of no return beyond which the aircraft is no longer capable of out-climbing or out-turning the terrain that you have lowered it into. You will now contact terra firma no matter what you do--you can't go around and you're committed to the landing regardless of what happens.
Hitadipa has a committal point that is really early in the approach--it occurs a full 30 seconds before you're able to see the airstrip that you're landing on, 60 seconds before touchdown. Take a gander at the video--what you'll see is the airplane lowering itself into a tight river valley with no airstrip in sight--it's in a spur valley off to the left at the far end of the canyon and you won't see it for the majority of the approach. If you watch the video timer, we become committed to land at the :35 second point of the video.
Makes me think about commitment in terms of following Jesus in the ministries He calls us to. Some of my forbears in missions used to pack their belongings in coffins as they headed to the mission field--they knew they weren't coming back--they stepped onto ships and passed their committal points. Now? We try things out ahead of time, make sure a ministry is a good fit for us, wouldn't think of leaving our home shores without a good retirement plan, health insurance, life insurance and above all, an exit plan: we actually get counseled to have a fall back plan in our home country in case this missionary thing doesn't work out.
I'm a slow reader. Still in Luke. I just camp out in this stuff. Chapter 9, Jesus says to us,
If anyone will come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.
I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back.