Dear Friends and Family,
For those of you who aren’t on Facebook, you probably haven’t gotten an update from us in a while. My apologies. I will try to send out a letter in the coming week as I will be in hard quarantine for 14 days on my way back to Yap.
But I just wanted to send this short message out to you all to bring you up to speed.
As you may recall, Samaritan’s Purse donated two Beechcraft King Airs to PMA. The first one, N875SP, was flown to Yap via Alaska, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Palau, and Guam. Preston and Kim Huntting were asked by Samaritan’s Purse to come out and help us, and since Preston was on leave from Alaska Airlines, they agreed to come for the interim.
Due to COVID restrictions and our country being closed it was an uphill battle to get permission for them to enter with the plane and their family, but eventually, the Lord opened the doors. They still had to endure a 14 day quarantine in Guam and then a 14 day quarantine in Yap, but finally they were released on June 7. We had a great week together showing him the runways and celebrating the arrival of the first plane with all the outer island communities and with the dignitaries and friends in Yap proper.
Once Preston was oriented (crash course) I flew a queen air down to Palau and then caught a commercial flight to Guam, Hawaii, San Francisco, then Seattle. I would be leaving for a 6-week trip to get trained on the PT6 Turboprop engine and also flight training in the King Air 200. My first stop was Parkwater Aviation in Spokane, WA. The course began on June 14. After one week there, I completed the PT6 course and was picked up by Mike Harwood, who is with Samaritan’s Purse, and we flew together to Medford Oregon, in N468SP, the second King Air. After a one day course in Medford to learn how to use equipment to balance propellers, we set off for North Carolina. I began my first week of flight training at FlyRight on June 21.
After that first week, my friend Les Swientek came over from Phoenix and we spent the next week flying the plane around for training and to also run some errands. I had to do an interview with Mission Safety International (MSI) in Michigan while visiting my old A&P school (SMAT). Then we flew to Oklahoma and visited Covington Aircraft who will be assisting us with engine inspections and overhauls. Then we flew to Denver where I renewed my medical and also met with our new Insurance Agent with Airmap. After Denver, we flew to Redding and visited some friends before heading to Bakersfield California, to pick up Dave Kendrick who had just joined PMA and would be going through flight training with me again. After dropping Les off in Phoenix, Dave and I flew back to North Carolina.
On July 5 Dave and I began our official flight training course at FlyRight. This one would end with a check ride that was necessary to get both of us on the PMA Part 135 Certificate. When we finished that, we went up to Samaritan’s Purse and enjoyed a sendoff ceremony put on by the Staff of Samaritan’s Purse. This was a very special event where we got to express our thanks to Samaritan’s Purse and also hear of their commitment to support PMA as we transition to these aircraft. I was very impressed with Samaritan’s Purse and was affirmed of their complete God-centered and gospel-focused ministry around the world. We are so blessed to come alongside them and partner with them in a small way. A highlight of the trip was to be able to meet face to face with Franklin Graham and pray with him. Also to meet Virgil Gottfried, who has been managing this entire handover from the beginning. Virgil is a man with a wealth of knowledge in King Airs and is committed to seeing PMA succeed in all this.
When Dave and I departed Samaritan’s Purse last stop before heading west was to see our FAA inspectors in Alexandria, Minnesota. This was where they inspected the plane, checked the documentation and also where Dave and I did our line checks to complete the last step in being able to fly these planes in Yap. After that was done, we flew to Merced, California.
In Merced, CA, we contracted a company called Gateway Air Center to install a long range fuel tank in the aircraft so that we could fly across the Pacific. Our route will be from Merced, to Honolulu, then we will rest a day and then depart for Majuro, Marshall Islands for a fuel stop and then continue on to Guam. We will depart tomorrow morning (Saturday, July 24). We hope to arrive in Guam on Tuesday evening. If you wish to follow our track, you can click on these links.
Once in Guam, we will enter a quarantine period of 7 days. This is not a requirement by Guam, but rather a requirement before we enter Yap. Then, upon arrival in Yap, we must undergo another 7 day quarantine before being released. I expect to be out of quarantine around the 11th of August.
Meanwhile back in Yap, Heidi finished the homeschool year at the beginning of June and was involved in a youth rally event held each summer by our church and our sister churches the Yap Evangelical Church, and the Palau Evangelical Church. Then following that, our church held a children’s VBS for children in the outer island community.
On July 14, Heidi and the kids then boarded the flight to Woleai atoll. They joined our PMF team members Bruce and Noelyn, who have been doing an outreach there since May. Heidi will be able to assist them in a VBS for the children on that remote atoll. And they will remain there until I return. This is an exciting adventure for them but also has its challenges as it is a very remote island with limited conveniences.
Our Pilot Preston who was not going to be recalled by Alaska Airlines until September received a notice that they wanted him back on August 3. This means that Preston had to board the last flight out of Yap on July 25. Our operation in Yap will have to shut down until I get back with our new pilots and are cleared from quarantine. This also means that Heidi and the kids will not have a means to get off the island until then also. Please pray that they stay healthy and safe until I return.
Well, this short update has gotten longer than I planned, so I will close it up for now. I appreciate your prayers as we begin this long flight across the Pacific.