Sunday, August 29, 2010

Scattered glimpses of the week.


9am: Flying over the jade sea in the early morning, I listened to a podcast on forgiveness. The immense lake below set the mood for a message on canceling the debt of others who may have wronged us. The concept seems so easy alone in a cockpit.

11am: I am a passenger, shooting out over an abrupt cliff. As the Earth disappears out my window, Jeff explains the safe way to depart. This airstrip checkout at Gatab was more exhilarating than I imagined! An hour earlier we were digging up thorn bushes at the lower airstrip, but now we weave a perfect line around the mountain ready to land.

6pm: I rush around the hangar in Nairobi trying to catch people I need to see and prepare a different airplane for the flight tomorrow. It is my first overnight in Nairobi. Kind of strange, since landing in Nairobi used to mean returning home. Now I am again 500 miles away from the family. Everyone at the hangar is extremely helpful, understanding this is my rare chance to be able to take care of issues in Nairobi... Passports, work projects, flight paperwork, labelling items to ship up to Loki...

4:50 am: I rush around different aisles at Nakumatt (open 24 hours- definitely Nairobi) checking off things for me, things for the family, and things for missionaries in Sudan.

7:30 am: The Cessna 206 groans down the runway. The cargo pod and cabin are completely full with boxes of medicine - almost half a ton. The seats are out to make more space. My seat, unfortunately places me too far forward in the cabin. That's gonna make for a long day...

9 am: The Tachometer shows 0 RPM. The engine sounds fine, so I know it is a display issue. I call Base on the HF radio and ask for their opinion. They give the OK to continue to Loki. I am hoping the problem is just the flexible shaft came off the tach drive of the engine. But I know it was tight this morning when I checked it, and the inspection putty showed it wasn't slipping. I run my numbers for the day and realize I can only afford 15 minutes in Loki to stay on schedule.

10:30 am: I arrive back home in Loki, but just for a quick turn. As Starline begins fueling, I take off the cowl, and unfortunately the cable is securely fastened on the tach drive. I check the cable attachment to the tachometer and it is also firmly attached. Must be a bigger issue. Well, not going any further today. Jon and I call Nairobi and arrange for parts, then I secure the plane and go home to surprise the family.

7pm: I read an e-mail saying a church in Arizona is very interested in helping us put new solar equipment on this house. This is a huge blessing, since the equipment on the house now is old and barely functional, especially during a period of cloudy days.

9 am: I retrieve vegetables and fruit that were kept cool overnight at Jon and Ginny's, and meet Starline to go back to the plane. The new parts arrive, and after a little head scratching, find the problem with the old flexible shaft.

12:30 pm: I run the engine to test, then depart to Sudan on a two and a half hour leg.

3 pm: Land in Akot, Sudan. The meds fill up a Land Cruiser, and part of a pickup. I smile thinking that all of those boxes fit inside the small airplane. The apples and oranges I bought at Nakumatt made it fine. After refuelling and talking with the missionary couple there, I blast off. I need to be home before sunset.

4:30 pm: Climbing up past 11,000 feet with rain clouds all around, I finally stretch out my legs. Behind me are two bicycles, imprisoned by my cargo net, and a lot of space around them. And a lot of space behind me so my seat can slide back...

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