Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20 & 21
Dear Friends and Family,
If I pick up where I left off, our last email talked about the long ferry flight I was going to make across the Pacific Ocean with the King Air from California to Yap, via Honolulu, Majuro, and Guam. The flight went great! The weather was good the entire route and upon arrival in Guam, I went into quarantine for 7 days. Then when we were finished, we flew the last leg to Yap, along with 2 new pilots for PMA and 6 other FSM citizens, who we were helping to repatriate. In Yap, we were quarantined another 7 days before we were finally released.
Personally, I enjoyed the quarantine time and used it as a time to catch up on a backlog of paperwork and also to research and learn more about these new aircraft we have. The first day out of quarantine, I spent finishing up an Annual Inspection on the Queen Air so that we could use it to train one of our new pilots but also to have a backup aircraft to fly missions with. The second day out of quarantine, I had two flights to Ulithi and one flight to Woleai. Most of the travelers were teachers and students traveling back to school. But the last flight to Woleai was for me to go pick up my family who had spent the last month out there. What an awesome reunion! We had missed each other so much. The kids had tears in their eyes and were so excited, as we all were. Their time on Woleai had been very fun for everyone and the community really welcomed them warmly. They made many unforgettable memories of their time on the atoll. They also brought home a puppy!
A week after Heidi got back from Woleai, she started the homeschool year with her group of kids. She has been using the Sonlight curriculum with the students for the past 8 years, and everyone enjoys it so much! Heidi has a friend, Lori, who helps by teaching the younger kids 4 days a week, and whose children also attend the school. All in all, there are 13 students, ranging from Kindergarten to 7th grade-a real one room schoolhouse! Our friend Ces lives with us when she is visiting from Satawal island, and has been an enormous help by taking care of Owen while Heidi is teaching school. It’s definitely a full house, but the kids really love their school days and are learning a lot. One very cool blessing for the year is that a non-profit organization called Habele, which is involved with helping the Micronesian islands with educational supplies, gave a robotics kit to our homeschool.
Every year, the different schools in Yap and its outer islands are involved in a robotics competition. Our homeschool kids have already figured out how to build their robot and will be working on making it better in the coming months. When she’s not teaching all those kids, Heidi enjoys doing ministry in our local church. She continues to lead the ladies’ Bible study every Wednesday afternoon with Queen, our pastor’s wife, and teaches Sunday school and youth group every few weeks, so between all those activities and her garden(s), she stays pretty busy and happy.
Three of my main goals upon returning to Yap, were to:
1. Get the Queen Air Annual Inspection finished so that we would have it available for training and as a backup aircraft
2. Get the BN-2A Islander Annual Inspection finished so that we could move it to Palau for our flight operation there.
3. Replace the fuel nozzles and borescope inspection on the first King Air (N875SP) which are due before further flight.
The Queen Air (N44MA) was done within the first week, and I was able to begin flight training our new pilot Igor Zayer, as well as some mission flights. We have had a few challenges such as the Jet-A fuel truck at the airport breaking down and unable to supply us with fuel. So, we had a few days where we only had the Queen Air to fly until we were able to get Jet fuel in some drums. We also had one day where we planned to fly a casket in the King Air, but the new King Air has a slightly smaller cargo door which could not fit the casket inside. At the last minute we had to switch over to the Queen Air, and still got the casket out to Fais before the sun set.
The BN-2A Islander is not an ideal aircraft for our base in Yap, because of the long distances we have to fly. But in Palau, they only have single-engine aircraft with 5 seats and there are times that they could use a twin-engine aircraft for heavier loads and for sea searches offshore, or surveillance. Our plan has been to move the BN-2A Islander to Palau, train our pilot Brock in it so that he can also build more twin time, and also be used more than it was here in Yap. We finished up the Annual Inspection on that plane two weeks ago, and I got our new pilot, Dave Kendrick, recurrent in it. He has since taken it to Palau to train Brock Welge, our base manager there.
Once the BN-2A Islander was out of the hangar, and with one of our Queen Airs (N46MA) already in Palau, we were able to successfully fit our two new King Airs and our second Queen Air (N44MA) in our small 60 ft X 80 ft Hangar. It’s a tight fit, but at least they are all sheltered and out of the rain. This is also good because now that the other maintenance projects are done and all planes are safe in the hangar, we can focus on the maintenance to get N875SP up and running again.
As I write this letter, I have been out of quarantine for exactly 30 days. When I calculated my flight time in those 30 days, I am astonished at how much flying we have done. I flew the new King Air 78.4 hours, the Queen Air 25.5 hours, and the BN-2A Islander 4.6 hours. A total of 108.7 hours. That is a record for me here. In the past, a busy month in the Queen Airs was only 50 hours and sometimes 60 hours. But the demand for flying has considerably increased with the arrival of these new King Airs.
A major reason for the increase in flight hours is that we have received several requests to cross the country and help move people between the different states of Micronesia. I have made 4 trips to the eastern states, which is basically one trip every week. When I go, I usually park overnight in Pohnpei, where PMA has a base (no aviation), and I get to have dinner and breakfast with Nob (our PMA CEO) and his wife Sylvia who live there. Most of the flying was to bring students back to school as well as moving people from the education department and health department around. They sure loved the speed, and smooth ride, plus the extra legroom in the new King Airs. We definitely stirred up the conversations in that region and many people have asked us to provide a similar service there as we have in Yap. The farthest state to the east is Kosrae, and that is almost 1500 NM from Yap. So, it’s a bit of a trip each time I go. But I am so impressed with these new aircraft. They make the trip so smooth and easy that after an 8-hour day of flying, I am still eager to get in the seat again the next day.
On my first trip over, we invited the President of the FSM, Mr. David Panuelo, to come to the airport to tour the plane. It was a privilege to meet him and show him the aircraft.
One of the exciting events that we have to look forward to is the Samaritan’s Purse “Operation Christmas Child” (OCC). They contacted us last December that they wanted to partner with PMA to receive the training and distribute the shoebox gifts. In June, a 40 ft. container was delivered to our hangar and our crew unloaded and put all the shoeboxes in storage. Then, over Zoom calls, the OCC team trained our pastor as well as other pastors on the island for the evangelistic materials. Since July, our pastor has begun outreaches into the communities on the main island of Yap to bring the children together and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. We have not yet begun the outreach for the outer islands, but we did fly in some of our leaders in the outer islands to receive the training. Our first island that we will start the outreach at is on Fais Island next weekend. Our pastor, Petrus, will fly out there and spend the weekend with our church group there doing the evangelism and distribution of the shoeboxes. We pray that this ministry will really reach the children for Christ.
I know this newsletter has quite a lot of airplane stories in it, but as you can understand this is such a new and exciting time for us. I’m sure all the people who are not interested can just skim over the airplane stuff. We are doing very well as a family, happy to be together again, and grateful to serve here with PMA. God has truly blessed our mission and has a purpose for us here. But we could not be serving in these islands if it were not for those of you who support us financially, and who pray for us on a regular basis. We are grateful to have you partnering with us in this ministry and pray that the Lord also blesses you and your families.
God Bless you all,
Amos & Heidi Collins
Tommy, Raina, Honora, Theo, & Owen