As you may know, Wojtek is a pilot who went to Moody Bible Institute for Missionary Aviation. When we arrive in Papua New Guinea his work day may go something like this…
In Papua New Guinea I wake up early, ready for another day of flying into the remote villages of PNG. The air is cool as we are located in the highlands and the elevation staves off the tropical heat felt at the coastline. When I arrive at the hangar my first flight of the day is to take a missionary family of translators to the Lote village deep into the jungle. It’s only a 25 minute flight for me, but if the family were to make the trek on foot they would be carrying their little ones and all of their supplies on their back for two grueling days through jungle, swamp, and many impassable areas. On top of the unsafe terrain there are also a variety of snakes and jungle animals that make it unsafe to go by foot. By serving them and bringing them back to the village the hope is that the Lote tribe will finally have the Bible in their language by the end of the translation project, scheduled for that summer. I’m looking forward to being the pilot who delivers those new testaments to the people once they have been printed! I completed my preflight checks and headed out, when I arrived in Lote the strip was a 600 foot grass runway that is meticulously maintained by the villagers who use bush knives to cut the grass. The air strip is their lifeline to the outside world and if they weren’t to maintain it properly they run the risk of it being closed and being cut off from medical supplies etc.
After dropping the family off, the Lote people load up the plane with coffee and other cash crops as the aviation ministry is often the only way they can transport their goods and make a sale. I then make my way back to the airstrip located on Ukarumpa base.
I get back to Ukarumpa in time to grab my lunch, when the radio goes off again letting me know that in another nearby village there has been an accident. One of the mud houses collapsed crushing a young woman’s leg in the impact. She needed to be immediately medevac’d out in order to get medical care for her leg. On this flight I had to calculate fuel carefully as I had to take one of the nurses from the clinic with me and the village was a bit farther away. When the nurse arrived with her emergency kit we got going and headed off to the village. Arriving there, this air strip was more difficult to maneuver as there was a good deal of cloud coverage and there were many mountains making visibility low. Thankfully there was enough of a break in the clouds for us to attempt a safe landing. We loaded the young woman in the back who was barely conscious due to pain and shock. The nurse got to work immediately as she stabilized her for the trip back to base. I got the all clear from Ukarumpa and began the 45 minute flight back. The clinic thankfully had the capability to treat orthopedic injuries so the woman was able to get life saving care thanks to aviation ministry.
All was quiet on the radio after this, so the remainder of my day was spent doing air craft maintenance in the hangar until the end of the day when I could start my 2 mile trek back home to my wife and family for dinner.