Friday, March 27, 2020

Lot's of Flying = More Maintenance!

(Picture:  Steve, in the Bongolo hangar, next to the engine- a 300hp, Continental IO-550F)
We had more flying in January and February than originally thought... which took the airplane up to the time of needing the "100-hour Inspection" sooner.  It came just as the pandemic restrictions came to Gabon which led to the cancelation of all of our flights.  So, a mixed blessing of grieving the loss of flights, but a more relaxed schedule meant a more measured pace of completion.  

(Picture: the spark plugs and fuel injectors just after removal)
This aircraft inspection event was to have been done in Cameroon (2 hour flight north), but, due to a lot more flying in January/February, we found ourselves up to the inspection time.  I was a bit hesitant on doing the inspection at Bongolo, where our supplies and tooling are a bit limited, but, through the help of technology (mainly WhatsApp), I’ve been in regular contact with the team in Cameroon and Rob Peterson, in North Carolina, and they’ve provided excellent help.
(Picture: Dr. Drew Huang)
Another reason for a great inspection event was a couple of days of a helping hand from Dr. Drew Huang, one of the surgeon's who helps train other doctors at Bongolo Hospital through the PAACS program.  Drew was also a key teammate back in September, when the aircraft finished up the annual inspection. 
(Picture: Fuel Strainer- inside the "plunger hole", you see the culprit- a broken o-ring)
It seems that each inspection unearths at least one issue that poses a bigger challenge than you were expecting.  This time, it was a leaky fuel strainer.  During the inspection, we did all the normal things- with the strainer mounted in place (accessed by laying on your back near the nose wheel), we pulled the lower portion off, inspected, cleaned, replaced some o-rings and a gasket and then reinstalled.  However, once we turned the fuel back on, there was leakage.  So, I opened it back up, double checked everything, reinstalled, and, yet, the leak continued.  Further inspection showed it was actually coming from an o-ring that is hardly ever considered (at least in my experience), from the top of the strainer which is VERY hard to reach!  So... we pulled the whole unit out, and took a look- yep... bad o-ring.  We had only one new o-ring in stock, so I very carefully installed.  Thankfully, all said and done, the leak is gone!  Phew!
(Picture: Our aging, Bongolo hangar- built circa 2000- lots of wood that termites have not been kind too!)
With the work at the hangar complete, along with a successful engine run-up and leak check, now it's time for the paperwork!  None of this can happen without your strong, dedicated teamwork.  Would you please take a moment to pray for these critical efforts and consider partnering with us in other ways?

Thank you everyone!



  1. Dear Steve,
    Thank you so much for your update and information. I've been thinking about your "invitation" to come to Gabon and participate in your ministry there, and believe me, I've been praying for the Lord's guidance in that too. In the last couple of months my wife has been diagnosed with early stages of Parkinson's disease which kind of curtailed our plans and now with this virus that's spreading, I think we'd better hold off on that for now. Another thing that bothers is the fact that I'm going on 83 years of age so maybe I'd be more of a hindrance than a help, although I sure don't want to admit that! Just reading about your 100 hour inspection difficulties really makes me wish I could have been there helping as I have had quite a lot of Cessna 206/207/310/177RG etc experience. Anyway, I guess for now we'll have to put this on the back burner.
    I'm guessing you probably know Barry and Terri Newman who work in the Bongolo hospital. Several years ago they were in our C&MA church in rural Boone, Iowa and we just seemed to "hit it off" in our relationship together, at least we felt that way. Even though we weren't privileged to have them in our home as guests during our Missions Festival, we did get to visit quite a while, one time just sitting in our car while waiting for their host to arrive home. Maybe they will, maybe they won't, remember us but we pray for them-and you and the aviation ministry often.
    All of this to say we pray God's blessings, guidance, protection, and continued health on your family and the Newmans also. Please greet them for us, would you? Thank you so much.
    Bob and Pat Anderlik

    1. Dear Bob and Pat, It's so great to hear from you. Thanks so much for the encouragement! I'm sorry to hear about Pat's illness. We'll hold her up in prayer. The Newman's concluded their service in Gabon last year and I believe they are on a home assignment in the US this year. I hope you will run into them. Please keep in touch! We'll be ready when you are ready for a visit. Love, Steve and Alace