Retirement for an airplane, that is, not me! (I can't believe you would think such a thing!)
Yes, there I am, very happy on what I didn't realize was one of my last flights in trusty, old, "Seven-Foxtrot-Delta"- our 1982 Cessna 207 with close to 19,000 flight hours logged.
This aircraft served much of its life in Alaska doing air taxi operations for Smythe Air, then was refurbished and literally flew across the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, to start serving the church in Gabon. You're looking at one of only 4 aircraft to ever land at Bongolo Hospital's airport and one of only 2 aircraft to ever land at Bongolo's rest house called "Panga", by the ocean. Below is one of the most beautiful shots from that landing...
Yes, there is an airstrip amidst all the tall grass.
So, I'm grieving the retirement of this special airplane. There are so many stories of how this particular aircraft was selected for our first aircraft as well as how God provided many, many people to invest in finishing the refurbishment (with many great upgrades and modifications).
People, some sick, some healthy... some sitting, some on a stretcher... medications in boxes and coolers... medical materials and machines... Over the years, we've packed a lot of people and stuff into this aircraft and expedited them to their destinations, all in an effort of God's people to demonstrate HIS great love for them. I've been honored to be at the controls for the time that we did, and to tell the story of God's children, all over the world, obediently working together to bless each passenger.
Why Retirement? During a recent inspection, corrosion was discovered in new areas, below the paint- the nasty type called "exfoliation". The structure was significantly affected such that this, and the other items needing attention, rose to a level making repair impractical- the time and effort, especially in remote Africa, would result in a "bandaid" and take an excessive amount of labor-hours. I'm indebted to the team at SIL-Cameroon Aviation (many JAARS-trained pro's) for their teamwork in making this difficult decision.
Thank you for being part of the "heavy lifting" in our work.
As we retire "Seven-Foxtrot-Delta", I'll be introducing you to its replacement, "Seven-Bravo-Hotel"... our next aircraft! (this is my teaser to stay tuned) We'll be transplanting many of the upgrades over to the new machine. Soon, by God's grace, we'll be retrieving that aircraft from the other side of Africa and getting it into service.
Please consider helping us to continue this critical work!
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