The McEvoys work in an area much too rugged for an airstrip. Like many Bible translation projects throughout PNG, they rely on the helicopter to ferry supplies, materials and themselves in and out of their village allocations. Unfortunately, the helicopter is also very expensive to operate making it difficult for translators to afford the using the helicopter—even as vital as it is.
Translators aren’t the only ones to utilize the helicopter. Our helicopter is in high demand by customers outside the mission community. We’ve been asked to fly business executives to branch offices, sling-load materials for rural development, and even carry survey workers into the jungle to count crocodiles. The best part of this business is that profits from these commercial flights can be used to subsidize the cost of using the helicopter for Bible translation.
So a second helicopter was purchased and sent to PNG in hopes that it could do more such commercial work. Lack of manpower, however, kept the disassembled helicopter sitting in the hangar for two years. The skeleton maintenance crew had all they could do just to keep the active aircraft flying.
As the aircraft maintenance manager, I dealt with new obstacles to the helicopter project almost every day. Hard-to-find parts or ambiguous maintenance records threatened to keep the helicopter grounded indefinitely. But God has been our great provider, and those challenges became opportunities to watch God work.
In mid November, the maintenance team completed the helicopter assembly, and now it awaits final inspection by the Civil Aviation Authority. Once we receive the Certificate of Airworthiness and Certificate of Registration, it will be ready to be put into service for Bible translation.