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May 24, 2016

the quest for kodiaks

Three years ago, New Tribes Mission Aviation’s quest for a Kodiak for Papua New Guinea began. It was one based on the need to replace our older, less efficient 206 program with the newer, more efficient (and let’s face it, much cooler) aircraft, the Quest Kodiak. This is an airplane designed by bush pilots with missions in mind. It can take off heavier and faster, and land shorter than the 206’s we were flying, plus it’s big squishy tires means it doesn’t tear up the grass strips our missionaries work so hard to build and maintain.
Josh and I standing with Kodiak #3
The decision was made to replace the six 206’s with just 3 Kodiaks. This would use the same amount of pilots, but with two man crews and increased payload, it would be more efficient and ultimately cheaper for our missionaries. At 2.5 million dollars an airplane, this was not a cheap goal… but nothing is impossible for our God.

NTMA sent a pilot to PNG to begin flying another mission’s Kodiak, building his in-country hours, increasing his training, and kickstarting our own Kodiak program. The drawback? NTMA didn’t own a Kodiak, and only had about $10,000 towards the first one. But the Lord honored their step of faith, and within months of sending Jon Leedahl to PNG, the first Kodiak was purchased. You probably remember the rest, that Jon was in a life-threatening accident which resulted in his leg being amputated above the knee. This was disheartening and humbling, reminding all of NTMA that everything, including airplanes, personnel, and training is in God’s hands.

In order to drive that reminder home some more, God brought along some generous donors who bought the second and third Kodiaks for Papua New Guinea! Now we had 3 brand new Kodiaks ready to be outfitted and ferried across the Pacific Ocean to Papua New Guinea.
Our team!
On May 5, 2016 the third and final Kodiak landed in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, ready to begin serving the people and missionaries we love so much. It was a time of worship, thankfulness, excitement, and relief that it had finally made it (and there would be no more headache of importing an airplane). Within just a few days, it was up and flying along with its two sisters.

It’s humbling to be a part of this small piece of history… the quest for a Kodiak, and the closing of one program to open a new one. It’s very clear that God was in these airplanes’ journeys from the beginning, and He will continue to be there as these aircraft fly personnel, groceries, building materials, Bibles, medicine, and other supplies in order to support our missionaries planting and building churches in the some of the most remote places in the world.
Three answers to prayers!
Photo by Ryan Farran
On a completely unrelated to aviation note... Here's a couple more fun things: 

  • I love Downton Abbey, and so do a lot of other ladies here. Unfortunately, due to our location it takes a long time for us to actually see stuff. But one of my dear friends' mum gifted her (and us!) with the final season of Downton. We watched them all over a couple of weeks, and then had a lovely tea so we could watch the finale together. There were all sorts of sandwiches, dainties, and of course, tea. It was such a fun evening pulling party "crackers", drinking with our pinkies out, and being dressed up in our best Downton garb! :)
  • Yesterday I celebrated my 25th birthday! It was pretty low key, which is just how I like it. 
  • Today I was supposed to fly into one of our bush locations with some of our medical staff in order to run an immunization clinic for their village. Unfortunately, due to bad weather on both ends, we had to reschedule our flight for tomorrow at dawn. 
My Downton inspired outfit.

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