Seems I've been MIA from the blog for the past few weeks. More on that down below. First, a few more shots from the archives.
Above, the Quest Kodiak 100. This was the first of two Kodiaks that MAF began operating in Kalimantan, Indonesia a number of years ago. During the last couple of years that I served in Indonesia, I mostly flew the Kodiak, which was a lot of fun!
Above, the other type of aircraft we flew there, the Cessna Turbo 206. This is Long Pala, probably one of the toughest strips in the MAF world. All conditions (the grass, the wind, the plane, the pilot) had to be spot on, in order to make this work, within the margins that MAF requires. It usually took anywhere from at least three to five years before a 'new' pilot got checked out to fly into Long Pala.
And here is the Kodiak and 206, side by side in PaUpan.
The Kodiak was a great plane for the short, rugged, jungle strips into which we operated in Indonesia.
Do you notice a big difference between the Kodiak above, and the one below? When MAF took delivery of their first Kodiaks, the ECC (External Cargo Compartment) was not yet certified by the FAA. So in the picture above, we were operating it without the belly, or cargo pod. As soon as they became available, we installed that option. As you can see in the shot below, the 'pod' was extremely useful for our type of operation, not only allowing us to load hundreds of pounds of extra cargo into the pod, while still carrying passengers up top, but also helping to maintain a proper center of gravity.
In 2013 my family transitioned from Indonesia, to Africa, where I'm currently based with MAF Uganda. Although many of our passengers from the U.S. and elsewhere, often think that the airstrips here are some of the craziest in the world, the truth is that these strips are nowhere near as marginal or challenging as those in Indonesia. Sure, these would be crazy compared to any you'd find in the U.S., but it's all relative. In fact, most of the ones here are rather benign, which is great! Because of that, and because of the larger loads and number of people that we carry here, we mostly operate Cessna Grand Caravans in this part of the world. Like the Kodiak, the Caravan excels in the environments where MAF uses it!
Above is a shot of one of our Grand Caravan aircraft that I frequently fly here in East Africa. It's pictured above the typical type of landscape that we traverse each day.
Below, is a shot I took about two weeks ago, from the window of an entirely different type of aircraft, a Boeing 777. And it doesn't take a genius to figure out that we're not looking down upon the scorched landscape of northern South Sudan, or the savanna of northeastern Uganda. No, this happens to be the southwestern edge of Greenland, a place which I would very much love to explore some day.
But you guessed it, I was not exploring Greenland from the the window of a jet at 38,000 feet two weeks ago--no, I was actually on my way over to MAF U.S. headquarters, in Idaho, U.S.A. for some additional ground and flight training. In truth, it's been a VERY busy couple of weeks, before, during and after my time in the U.S.--and that's my excuse for not keeping up with the blog. In fact, it's still very busy, but I'm currently laid up in bed, with a strained back, which gives me a great opportunity to catch up on some stuff like this. :-)
The next three shots are courtesy of my good friend, and fellow MAF pilot, Tripp Flythe, who also happened to be doing the same training. The plane that I'm flying below is not a Caravan, or a Boeing 777... it's a Kodiak!
But not just any Kodiak, it's an amphibious Kodiak, slated to soon join the MAF program in Palangkaraya, Indonesia. I was not originally planning or thinking that I would fly the amphibious version of the Kodiak in Nampa. There was another, 'normal' Kodiak which was supposed to be at HQ while I was there. However, that one was sent down to Haiti, to help with the relief efforts after the recent, devastating hurricane there. Fortunately, this Kodiak happened to be there at HQ, awaiting it's ferry flight across the Pacific, and so we were able to get permission to use this plane for our training purposes. It was certainly fun, and different, to be sitting up so high above the ground!
We completed a week of intensive ground school, and some flight checks, required by the FAA, in order to allow us to pilot an aircraft under a new type of operating certificate that we'll be using in some locations. This means that in the future, I'll be able to help out, as a short term (relief) pilot, in various places where there's a temporary need for a pilot, qualified under the new operating certificate... such as disaster response situations like in Haiti, and also elsewhere.
While I was gone, I missed my kids' fall break from school, which was a bummer. Usually we like to try to do something fun during that time, like go camping or something. But maybe we'll get to do that in the 'spring.' In truth, it's not really a 'fall break' because there's obviously no autumn season here. If anything you could call it "rainy season" break. It's just that those of us who originate from colder climates in the Northern Hemisphere, still tend to associate this time of the year with fall or autumn.
Anyway, that was a rabbit trail... the point is that after returning from their 'fall break,' the entire school puts on a 'Rain Festival,' and each class dresses up in character costumes that they make, related to something that they are studying in one of their classes. They decorate their classroom, put on a parade, and have all kinds of activities. It's a good opportunity for parents and family to come see what's going on at the school, see their kids' classrooms, and generally have a good time on a Friday evening. I was glad to be back in time to see the rain festival. This year, because Britt (10th grade) and Hannah (9th grade) are in rather smallish classes, those classes decided to combine their efforts into one. Their theme revolved around Christian martyrs, and gladiators, under the Roman empire. Hannah was a martyr (lower right) while Britton was a gladiator (far right.)
And in other random news, last week we played host to most of our MAF team, (we have a large 'garden' or yard, which is conducive to outdoor events like this) who came over to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, a day which is significant for, and celebrated by, many British folks. Since our MAF team is very international, we often help each other celebrate various holidays from each other's countries. In fact, in two weeks, much of our team will be over here again, helping us to celebrate a combined U.S./Canadian Thanksgiving.