We just sent out this e-mail update yesterday but thought I would post it here for those of you who don’t get our e-mail updates. Dan wrote the update, so consider this a guest post or something 🙂
Dear Friends and Family,
Some of you know how close I have become to “my” airplane, PK-MAU (a.k.a. Mike Alpha Uniform). Shortly after we moved to Wamena, Papua in October 2007, “Mike Alpha Uniform” was assigned to me to be “my” airplane. I would be its primary pilot and mechanic.
Every pilot will tell you that different airplanes seem to have different personalities or qualities that make that particular airplane unique. Though two airplanes may be the same type, and identical in every way, somehow they take on personalities because they feel different or handle differently.
It did not take me long to take a liking to Mike Alpha Uniform, which by the way “MAU” in Indonesian means want or desire. I have long since joked that my airplane is the Flying Streetcar Named Desire. Mike Alpha Uniform has a wonderful personality, a bit more docile and forgiving than some of the other MAF Cessna 206s in Papua. It flies very nicely, though is not quick in climbing. We quickly became partners, a team, and MAU found its way into our family.
This weekend, we celebrated Mike Alpha Uniform’s 30th birthday! Perhaps a bit silly, but fun to reflect on the journey that both of us have been on.
I had not quite turned 2 years old when Mike Alpha Uniform first rolled out of the Cessna Factory in Wichita, KS in 1981. It spent some time in Canada, when it had floats installed allowing it to land on Canadian waters. Later the floats were removed and the airplane found its way back to the United States, and it was then purchased for Mission Aviation Fellowship. It was flown from Redlands, CA to Papua, Indonesia via Hawaii, with the help of some large fuel tanks installed in the cabin. The airplane became my responsibility in late 2007, and since then I have logged 873.0 flight hours in Mike Alpha Uniform, nearly 10% of all the hours it has flown in its lifetime!
So, this weekend we celebrated Mike Alpha Uniform’s 30th birthday. I am so proud of this little airplane, and how well it has served the Lord and served the people of Papua, Indonesia. I have grown quite attached to this airplane, my teammate.
I am a bit sad that Mike Alpha Uniform will retire from service here in Papua, most likely in the next two years. Because it burns Avgas which is so expensive and hard to get here in Papua, it is being replaced with newer aircraft which burn the cheaper and readily available turbine fuel.
In the meantime, we spent a little time reflecting and celebrating Mike Alpha Uniform’s 30 years!
Happy Birthday MAU!!!
PS A note from Sarah – this was a spontaneous celebration and we weren’t exactly prepared for family pictures, as you can see from the girls own hand-picked outfits! J