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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Home Again

After a very busy time in Spokane, followed by a whirlwind trip through Pennsylvania, I finally made it back home to Tarakan, nearly a month after leaving.  Obviously it's great to be back with my family again!!!

Despite very tight connections on two of my international flights, including the one through Tokyo, Japan, the entire trip went off without a hitch.  In fact, I enjoyed flights that were half empty, (normally these flights are totally full), no doubt due to many canceling or changing flights due to concerns related to the situation in Japan.

After three days of traveling, I arrived back in Tarakan on Wednesday evening, spent most of the day Thursday unpacking, catching up on desk work and MAF-related stuff, and then had to report to the hangar first thing Friday morning--albeit still tired and a bit "out of it" from the exhausting past month and long trip home .  I spent the day riding along with my buddy Paul, observing Kodiak operations from the right seat (co-pilot's side).

On Monday the Kodiak will come in for a routine inspection, so I'll be helping with that this week.  At the end of this week, our entire team flies down to Balikpapan (the closest big city to ours, through which every large commercial flight that leaves Tarakan usually transits) for our annual staff conference.  Joy is one of the conference planners this year, so she has been very, very busy with the many details related to that.  She will be leaving two days earlier to go down to the hotel and make sure everything comes together as planned.  The kids and I, along with the rest of the team, will then come down on Saturday for a week of spiritual, physical and emotional re-charge.

Finally, after we return from conference, I will begin my program Kodiak checkout.  In the meantime, I'm sure I'll keep you updated with a few pics and bits of news from Tarakan and/or our conference in Balikpapan, but right now I'm still trying to catch up on stuff from being gone for a month--so strangely, for me, no pictures this time.

Again, thanks for keeping my family and me in your prayers during the time that I was at training in America.  We really appreciate you!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Studying in Spokane

Obviously this is not a picture from Indonesia!  The past two weeks have seen me studying at STC (Spokane Turbine Center) to learn all about the Quest Kodiak aircraft.  The first week was specifically about the PT6A Turbine engine that the Kodiak uses.  It was an intense week of learning--like drinking from a fire hose of small turbine engine theory, line maintenance, and operation.  Unfortunately, the temperatures were also intensely COLD!  We did several run-ups on the engine stand outside, where the temperature was about 7 degrees, and the windchill was...well, VERY COLD!!!  But the training was excellent and well worth it, despite the frigid temps. 

The second week we dove head-first into aircraft systems classes as well as specific classes on the Garmin G-1000 integrated avionics system that's found in the Kodiak.  For someone who's never flown a glass panel aircraft, this is like learning a whole new technical language and culture.  I don't typically think of myself as an "old-school" pilot, but technology has dramatically advanced the look and feel of modern-day aircraft cockpits and the Kodiak is a great example.  If you know how to operate this stuff--which buttons to push and when, how to read some of the new styles of instruments, etc., the glass panels can be an awesome tool!  Of course, if you don't know what you're doing you can quickly get overwhelmed by all of the digital beauty, hence the reason for the in-depth classes.  STC has awesome classrooms for both flight and maintenance training.  This is the G-1000 classroom, with each desk sporting a two-panel G-1000 simulator so that each student can practice in real-time as the instructor demonstrates the maneuvers or processes on the large screens at the front.

I've also been flying the full-motion AATD Kodiak, which is an actual Kodiak cockpit that has been made into a 3-axis-motion "simulator."  That is an intense and challenging but rewarding experience!  On Friday we flew up to the Quest Aircraft Company just north of here in beautiful Sandpoint, ID (below).  It was great to be able to see first-hand where and how these planes are made and to meet some of the great folks that have a hand in creating each new Kodiak.

Today (Saturday) I spent the morning flying the AATD again (below I'm on short final into LAX - Los Angeles International Airport at dawn) with my roommate David Garcia.  The AATD can be placed anywhere in the world, so I also did some flying and an instrument approach into my home airport in Tarakan, Indonesia.  Only wish I could have landed and seen my wife and kids as I obviously miss them a bunch! (Photo below taken by David Garcia)

Well, this week will continue to be busy as I finish up training here at STC with multiple flights in the simulator, no doubt getting the opportunity to deal with every conceivable type of emergency that a pilot hopes to never face in real life!  At the end of the week I'll be flying to PA for a few brief days before returning to Indonesia.

On Sunday morning, March 13th, I'll be sharing at Greencastle Calvary Bible Church at 10:50am in the multipurpose room.  There will be coffee and doughnuts served prior to that at 10:15.  I'd love to see you there if you're able to make it.  For additional information or directions, feel free to e-mail me, contact my parents, or the church.