Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Two Journeys

The threshing floor in Bokraha
I spent a fair bit of time as a child in the village of Bokraha in rural Nepal.  We left Nepal in 1979 and I'd never had the opportunity to return.  After an absence of 33 years, and wondering if I'd ever be privileged to return to the mountain kingdom, next week I'll be heading to Kathmandu for what will be my third visit to Nepal this year.

What gives?

Porter #3 in its former life as a paradrop airplane
A bit of background: the best we can tell, it's going to need five short-field aircraft to meet the needs of the ministries we serve out here in Papua.  We've identified the Pilatus PC-6 Porter as the bird for the job.  God has done some absolutely amazing stuff to provide us with three Porters from three radically disparate sources.  Then, when we lost Paul last year, we also lost the aircraft he was flying.  We were back to two Porters.  It took a fair bit of time and effort, but we have managed to purchase a lightly used Porter in Switzerland with insurance funds from the accident airplane.  On Tuesday morning August 21 that aircraft, Porter #3, is scheduled to leave Switzerland and begin its long journey this direction in the capable hands of Daniel Eicher, a Swiss ferry pilot.  (You can follow Daniel's flight here.   To see his GPS track you'll need a username and password...send me an email and I'll get you those.)

Everest from a Porter
So I've gotten us as far as Switzerland... where does Nepal enter the picture?  As enough funds came in for our fourth airplane, we began scouring the globe for Porter #4.  Globe scouring led us to a Porter being sold by an airline in Nepal and a couple of trips to Kathmandu to evaluate the aircraft and close the deal.  On the first trip, what was to be a 20 minute test flight over the city, morphed into a never-to-be-forgotten flight up to the flanks of Everest.

Porter #4 on the ramp in Kathmandu
I could make this long story even longer by including all the incredible contributions of our entire team to get the airplane ready from a paperwork and airworthiness perspective--but suffice it to say that an amazing amount of teamwork and God's straight out intervention on our behalf means that the aircraft is now ready for my colleague Brad and I to ferry to Papua.  It's a journey of almost 6000 nautical miles, a quarter of the globe's circumference, and it'll take us seven flying days to accomplish.

Brad and I, and the entire team, will definitely appreciate your prayers for the journey...and don't forget Daniel, he'll be a couple days behind us.  If you'd like to follow the flight's progress (we'll be using a satellite based tracking system) again, send me an email and I'll send you the links to do that.  you can do so on our Spidertracks page.

I won't make any promises, but if Brad does all the work and lets me coast, I'll try to keep the blog active as we make the trek across Asia.

We won't make it to Bokraha, but the interesting thing is that our flight path should take us directly over the tiny village.


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