Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Stranded Airplane

Most of the aircraft maintenance that Jon does happens in the airport hangars just a couple of miles away from home.  Occasionally, however, one of the planes may develop a problem that prohibits it from flying home.  It doesn’t always have to be a major issue.  Sometimes the pilot just doesn’t have the tools or materials needed to straighten out an otherwise minor issue.  Either way, when this scenario occurs, the mechanic with the most experience on the particular issue has to be flown out to the sick aircraft.  Jon enjoys the infrequent opportunity to make a “house call” and his turn came this week.

While landing on a rough airstrip, the windshield on one of the Kodiaks started coming loose.  The pilot was able to continue flying to Wewak in western PNG, but quickly realized the windshield as it was wouldn’t make it all the way back to Ukarumpa.  He radioed back to home base, and the maintenance team flew into action.

Top left pin: Wewak.  Lower right: Ukarumpa.

Because it was so close to dusk, there wasn’t time to fly anyone out to Wewak until the next morning.  As soon as the sun was up on Tuesday morning, Jon and another mechanic (both with a lot of experience on Kodiak windshields) made the 1.5 hour flight out to the stranded plane.

005A sprawling metropolis Wewak is not, but it does have a few stores, a couple of restaurants, a paved runway and most importantly—a place to work on the airplane out of the scorching sun.

By evening, the windshield was fixed and the plane ready to fly, but again it was too late in the day to fly back to Ukarumpa.  Jon spent the night in our organization’s guest house located in Wewak before heading home on Wednesday morning.

It wasn’t an aircraft rescue fraught with much adventure, but that’s the way an aircraft maintenance engineer likes it.  Jon says, “We had much to thank God for—a hangar to work in, all the necessary tools and materials were within reach, and no surprises.”  In the “Land of the Unexpected” we appreciate the “boring” days too.


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