Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Celine- Our Teammate in Stitches!

If you have ever been to the Bongolo Hospital's guest house in the city of Libreville, Gabon (known as "Gros Bouquet guest house"), then you've most likely met Celine. For almost a decade, Celine has been a smiling part of the team that serves travelers who are coming and going from our 10 bed facility.

She serves our guest house team by doing anything from feeding our pets to laundry to actually running the whole facility when Alace (the guest house director and, I might add, my lovely wife) is absent.

She's more than a teammate, though. She is a dear friend with a heart to be
used of Jesus. This comes through in all that she does at the guest house, in her neighborhood, and in her faith community. She is involved in community wealth-building programs, Bible translating, and prayer ministry. She has become a dear sister to us. We love her so much.

So when we found out near Christmas that, following a seizure event,
that an x-ray revealed a golf-sized size brain tumor behind her eyes, we were very concerned. It was already a difficult time for Alace and I and it was almost too much to think about what this might mean for Celine. We met with our team and her family and started to pray for what the best course of action would be.

After exploring local options, it became obvious that a solution at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya (a sister hospital to Bongolo) would be the best. Celines family and friends came together to finance every penny needed for the travel, lodging, and medical procedure... and so much more!

Many of you followed along with Celine's journey via our email updates and facebook and know that she has returned from Kenya praising the Lord for a very successful surgery!

Here are some great photos of our dear sister. She speaks very openly about how the Lord has blessed her through the caring hands of Dr. Leland Albright, the brain surgeon, and his team at Kijabe.

Many of Celine's friends and family can not believe it. For several weeks, now, many have been making visits to her home to see the scar from the stitches that give evidence to the amazing medical procedure that many here were thinking that sh
e'd never survive. Celine tells us that many of these friends and family are asking about her faith and wondering what would bring an amazing surgeon so far from home to perform the surgery and train African's to do the same.

Just as Celine has pulled through her ordeal with joy and praise, Alace and I have felt that, similarly, our time "in the valley" is over for now- we are praising Him as well. The Lord has reminded us, through Celine, that He will never leave us or forsake us. He is our Strong Tower- We will not be shaken!

Airplane Repairs Update

Here's the latest from our team leader at MMS Aviation, Dale:

Today we are replacing the aft belly skin, which will allow us to then put the floor back down, so that we can install the seat rails. There are a few bolts that attach the seat rails, floor and outboard gear casting together, and those nuts can only be tightened with the gear leg removed.

So, as a result, the aircraft is not on the ground yet, as I had hoped, however, we are still making good progress. I have had a dry fit of the landing gear, and I didnt seem to have any problems.

There are some cables in the belly that have been rubbing that I will be remaking, and then before the floor goes down, I will be putting those back in.

I have found additional damage on a roof skin, which points to a little damage around the front spar attach on the right side, so I have a little work to do in that area too.

I have included a photo of Andy sealing the right door sill, and mark removing the belly skin. Blessings, Dale

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Today's Flight!

That's right! I was able to go for a flight to check out a privately owned Cessna 206 that will now be an option for us to use for hospital missions. Here is the track of our 20 minute flight:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Track our Flights!

**** NOTICE ****
As of 01 September, 2013 SPOT service has experienced temporary service cut for our corner of the world.  Here is the map they published showing the scope of the outage:

We will continue flight following of each flight using an internal program called AFFS that is integrated with our HF radio and Garmin GPS.
We'll resume the SPOT flight following when we are able.

Click on this link to follow our flights in Gabon: SPOT FLIGHT FOLLOWING

When we fly, we will be activating a SPOT device. Every 10 to 20 minutes of flight, it sends a signal to a satellite which, in turn, sends info to the website which gives our coordinates (no altitude) mapped out on a google earth map. When we're not flying, a message will appear on the screen saying that there is no current information.

Will we be flying soon?

As you know, our primary aircraft is down for repairs in the US. However, we do have backup aircraft available. In the past, we had just one backup option, a Beechcraft Baron (6 seat, twin-engine aircraft), but in just that past two weeks, two other options look promising. A local businessman has a Cessna 206 (6 seat, single engine utility aircraft) that he would like us to use. Additionally, a conservationist has arrived in Gabon with a Cessna 182 (4 seat, single engine aircraft).

We are investigating these additional options, so flights may be resuming sooner than we thought!

The Impossible Turn

In a movie that our family enjoys, the main character, a mall cop, takes exception to being called a security "guard" as opposed to the title security "officer". The person that he's talking to couldn't care less, however, he continues. The dialogue goes roughly like this:
PB: "There's a big controversy brewing in the industry."
Other: "Oh, I had no idea"
PB: "Oh yeah...
it's out there."

Well, there's been a controversy brewing in the aviation industry...
it's out there! At issue is what pilots should be taught to do in the scenario where he or she has an aircraft that has ceased to generate power shortly after takeoff. Wait... wait... Did someone just yawn!?! I suggest that this should be intriguing stuff since the majority of us have traveled by air. Oh yeah... and because you all know and care for me (and, perhaps, other pilots) and want the best of me, oui?

So, the aviation community has mainly, in the past, instructed pilots whose engine(s) die(s) just after takeoff (below 1000 feet above ground level) to pick a landing site relatively straight ahead and fight the strong urge to go back to the airport- that would be an "impossible turn"- you are too low and too slow and such maneuvers would result in an aerodynamic stall. Long story short- it'd be a bad deal.

However, recently, people have been questioning if the "Impossible Turn" is really impossible. Could it be possible that a pilot could consider a turn back to the airport at a lower altitude in this scenario? So, If you are blessed with a decent internet connection, you can view the following video to see what the outcome is.

Interesting, riveting stuff, yes? I think so. Not just because I am a pilot and I make it my business to keep current on these things, but because this is a case where someone is questioning the status quo. Long held beliefs are being scrutinized and put to the test. What was once deemed "impossible" is now "possible".

When Mary, Jesus' mother, was confronted with the news that she'd be Jesus' mother without ever knowing a man, the angel told her this, "With God nothing shall be impossible".

I had a great vacation with my family and some friends on a remote beach in Gabon a couple of years ago. I read a great book by Andrew Murray called "Absolute Surrender" while I lounged sea-side. Here's what he had to say about impossibilities;

"Your life is every day to be a proof
that God works impossibilities;
your life is to be a series of
impossibilities made possible and actual
by God's almighty power."

Soon after, I started to pray that my life would be evidence of an almighty God who loves to do the impossible. Since that time, I can easily say, it has been the most challenging chapter of my life. I think if you had come to me that day with a list of all the events that would transpire in the coming two years, I would have said that it would be impossible for my family to survive or for us to remain living cross-culturally in Africa. However, here we are. I can only hope that these things are part of God answering our prayer that our lives are evidence of a God that loves to do the impossible.

Can an Impossible Turn become possible? It would seem that it is possible. Now, interestingly enough, pilots are being trained to react in an opposite manner than they previously were doing in an emergency situation. What are they calling this new maneuver? "The Impossible Turn" !

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Airplane Repairs Update

Here's the latest news about our aircraft repair from MMS Aviation:

Hi Steve-Another update for you.

We have the main landing gear box installed completely. All the rivets in and bolts in and torqued. The main gear has been fitted. The left goes in without any difficulty, and the right takes a little beating, but not really difficult. What I will recommend, and the 207 shop that I have been working with on an advisory capacity, recommends, is that the landing gear comes out at least every 5 years, and I would suggest less, based on the fact that you are coastal. When it comes out, all the bolts need to be checked to make sure that they are tight, and then the gear lubricated at the attach points, and installed again.

Today, we are installing the co-pilots door sill assembly. It is very tight, and the holes need to line up exactly, and so far, I am very pleased with how it is going in. I have included a couple of photos for you. Once that is done, we will install the stressed skin above the landing gear box, and then it should be time to put the landing gear in for good and put it back on the ground.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

5k Fund Raiser for Hope House!

This morning, four of us met at the beach in Libreville to participate in the "Grain of Hope" 5k Run/Walk. This is sponsored by the student ministries program of our home church, York Alliance Church (York, PA- USA)

So, I decided to actually run a bit while the cameras were snapping photos.

Afterwards, it was time for a dip in the ocean!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fueling Progress Update

(Scroll down to see older updates)


Sixteen more 55-gallon drums have been filled up, sealed, and delivered to Cleveland, Ohio to be loaded onto the shipping container bound for Gabon.  Expected arrival is the by the end of October.



The "Back Road" from Libreville to Bongolo Hospital

More photos…

Fueling Progress Campaign

We are launching the "Fueling Progress" funding campaign. Here is the proposal:














     > CHECK:  Make your check payable to "Air Calvary" and write "Gabon-Fuel" and send to:
          Air Calvary
          P.O. Box 727
          Bedford Hills, NY 10507-0727

     > CREDIT CARD / PAYPAL:  Click Here

     > Recurring CREDIT Card donation?:  Click Here

Monday, May 9, 2011


My wife is a fabulous writer. Insightful and inspiring.

Check our her latest blog called "The Great Peanut Butter Exchange". Enjoy!

Fighting To Die For Christ

One of our teammates, Dr. David Thompson, shares the following story:

D on’t let him take me!” the young woman screamed. “Please, stop him! I don’t want to go to the Nganga!” But her father picked her up, carried her to the waiting car and sped away with her.

When 27 year old Pulchérie came to Bongolo Hospital months ago, she was a thin but still beautiful young woman. She complained of abdominal pain, vomiting, and weight loss. She had become a Christian a few years earlier and had grown rapidly in her faith. Then she became ill, and none of the doctors in Libreville could figure out what was wrong.

Pulchérie turned out to have a bowel obstruction caused by a mysterious mass in the area of her pancreas. At surgery, it appeared to be benign, so we biopsied it and bypassed the obstruction to enable her to eat normally. Two months and two operations later it was clear that Pulchérie had widespread, advanced cancer throughout her abdomen.

As the cancer grew she lived with constant pain, despite strong painkillers and the church’s prayer for healing. Her family wanted her to return to Libreville, but Pulchérie knew if she did they would take her to a traditional healer, called an “Nganga.” When she asked if she could remain at the hospital until she died, we agreed and supported her in her fight to be a testimony to her family and live for Christ until her last breath. That is until one after-noon when our entire surgical team was tied up in surgery and her father swooped in. She fought with all her strength, but she was so wasted it took little effort for him to subdue her and carry her off.

Two days later Dr. Dave wrote, “Just to let you know, Karen, Lisa, and a young pastor were able to find Pul-chérie (and despite the anger of the Nganga who was claiming he had already started to heal her) read scripture to her, pray for her, and encourage her. She had lost more weight and the end may not be far away.” They were able to share encouraging Scripture with her.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

No Stone Unturned- N207FD

Here's an update the Dale, from MMS Aviation, just sent me:

Just a quick update for the week. This week was spent doing a lot of fitting of the main landing gear box assembly. We discovoured a bent outboard bulkhead which also had some cracked holes, so we had to repair that as there are none available unless we wait for 3 months for Cessna. That went in and on late Wednesday we put the main landing gear box assembly in for good, and started the process of installing all the 100's of bolts and rivets. I assembled the main gear springs and axles after they were painted, and we assembled the wheels, tires and tubes. I do hope to get the aircraft back on the ground today, but I am probably not going to reach that goal, so it will be Monday for sure.
Have a blessed weekend, Dale