Helicopter Rebuild Update
Within days of our arrival at NTM Aviation headquarters in Arizona, our team of four mechanics had totally disassembled the helicopter that we are preparing to send to the Philippines. Then the tedious work began. No detail was overlooked as we painstakingly replaced or rebuilt every worn component, repaired worn and cracked cowlings and inspection panels, updated avionics and instrument systems, and added the utility features that will enable us to carry cargo and passengers safely and efficiently into remote villages. After four months of long days in the shop, the helicopter is in better than new condition, and ready for final assembly and inspection before the first test flights!
Lessons from the life of Gideon
We had barely completed the disassembly process when our lead mechanic had to leave unexpectedly for an extended period due to a family emergency. To top it off, we had no sooner learned that our lead mechanic had to leave, than we received news from one of our pilots in the Philippines that they have to leave four months earlier than planned to deal with some medical issues. At first, we were overwhelmed and wondered why the Lord chose that moment to allow all of this to happen. Our pilot leaving early means the missionaries in an entire region of the Philippines will be without flight service until the helicopter arrives and is able to start flying. Losing our lead helicopter mechanic in Arizona has delayed the arrival of the helicopter in the Philippines by at least a month. Our leadership team has also asked Josh to begin the process of becoming a helicopter pilot with the goal of getting his commercial helicopter license before we return to the Philippines later this year. Once again, we found ourselves asking God why he has put our team in such an impossible situation! As we were talking and praying through the needs that seemed so impossible to us, Brian, our program manager, reminded us of Gideon. God was not satisfied with Gideon’s army until it was so small that it was not humanly possible for him to win. This was the only way that God would be sure to receive the glory and credit for the victory he planned to bring to Israel that night! We firmly believe that God has trimmed our team down to the point that he alone will receive the glory and credit because the task before us is beyond our ability to accomplish on our own.
What does this mean for us?
Our current plan is to ship the helicopter to the Philippines around the first week of October. Josh hopes to take his commercial helicopter check ride in Arizona sometime in late October, then we will meet the helicopter in the Philippines in early November. While a commercial helicopter pilot’s license is inadequate training for flying a helicopter on the mission field, it will position us to fairly quickly gain the rest of the needed flight training and experience once we are needed again in the role of a pilot.
For now, we will spend the next year setting up all of the logistics for our helicopter flight program in the Mindanao region of the Philippines, as well as moving out of our house on Palawan and either selling our Cessna 185’s or shipping them back to the U.S. to be sold.
While it is always a little scary to step into something new and unknown and that we feel totally inadequate for, there is an incredible excitement building as well when we think about the thousands of people that we can reach with a helicopter who were entirely cut off from the gospel even with our small bush planes!
Our next steps
- Finish assembling the helicopter that will be shipped to the Philippines in early October.
- Learn to fly helicopters and acquire a commercial helicopter pilot’s license.
- Travel to Mindanao, Philippines in early to mid November. We’ll temporarily live in another missionary’s house.
- Re-assemble the helicopter, build a hangar and set up helicopter flight program logistics.
- Sell or ship to the U.S. all of our Cessna parts and tooling as well as both of our Cessna 185’s.
- Find a permanent house on Mindanao and ship all of our belongings and our car in shipping containers from Palawan to Mindanao.
- Learn a new language and culture as well as new cities.
Because God loves the impossible!
Josh and Candy, Joshua and Anna