April - June 2012

Don arrived in Soldotna for two months to be on hand during the busy summer months. With his daughter Cheramie’s wedding and concurrent Boz family reunion the first week of June he started out the summer flying season behind. Below events describe the particularly busy time.
14 Jun – sent Casa and King Air out to YK Delta to pickup 17 kids from Hooper Bay and 8 kids from surrounding villages and take them to Soldotna where Grant Funk was to take them on a month long Warriors On Wheels trip to the lower 48. When the Casa got to Hooper Bay they discovered a problem with one of the engines such that they couldn’t fly the kids back. The scheduling office (me plus whoever was available) went into “scramble” mode to find crews and planes to replace the Casa. About 2 hours later, once the first King Air returned, we quickly fueled it and sent it off with the other King Air to bring the kids to Soldotna with four of our intrepid aviators. They took a Samaritan’s Purse mechanic and some parts to try and fix the Casa. We were very fortunate that we had no other flights scheduled that day. Both King Airs and the Casa ended up landing back in Soldotna within 15 minutes of each other.
16 Jun – After flying work team members from Kokrine Hills Bible Camp to Anchorage to catch their commercial flights to the lower 48, King Air 418SP returned to Soldotna with a broken Attitude Indicator which indicated a turn when the aircraft was actually strait and level. As this is a required instrument for flying in clouds and the auto pilot uses it for attitude reference the aircraft was down until we got it fixed. The flight on Sunday was therefore moved to the other King Air, 410SP and new flight manifests completed.(major scramble plus time overload) We planned to send the instrument to Anchorage Monday to have the “tilt” adjusted and have 418SP ready for it’s Wednesday flight.
17 Jun – King Air 410SP arrives at Goodnews Bay with a broken starter/generator. This piece of equipment is used to start the engine and once the engine is started it is used to generate the electricity needed. While the scheduling office scrambled (again!) to find crew and an airplane to send on our second rescue mission in three days the maintenance people stripped the Attitude Indicator and one of the starter/generators out of 418SP. Pilot Brian was returning in the Navajo after bringing a group of Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) youth home from Aleknagik so we quick fueled him when he got home and sent him off with the parts. Once he arrived Brian and Mike installed the good starter/generator, but the problem was still there. They then uninstalled the good starter/generator and replaced the old one. They also swapped the “tilted” Attitude Indicator for the good one in 410SP. The CEF youth that were in Goodnews Bay borded the Navajo but their bags , 410SP and it’s pilots stayed behind – there was not room on the Navajo. Brian arrived home at midnight after a very long day that started at 7 AM.
18 Jun - Greg & Travis came in early and installed the starter/generator back in 418SP as well as the good Attitude Indicator from 410SP. Now 418SP was airworthy to fly the scheduled Covenant Bible Camp flights. At 11 AM, only 2 hours late, they took off for Anchorage to pick up 3 passengers and 1000 lbs of cargo. Unfortunately, by the time they had gotten the cargo loaded the weather in Unalakleet had gone down and they could not go. Meanwhile Brian in the Caravan was approaching Unalakleet, having taken off at 9:30 AM and had to divert to a nearby village where he planned to wait for the fog in Unalakleet to lift. About halfway to St Micheals we noticed on the tracking program we use that Brian had turned around and was heading to Unalakleet again. A quick check of the airport video cameras showed that the fog was dissipating as fast as it had formed so we called the King Air pilot, Drew, in Anchorage and told him he could go. Unfortunately by the time he got to Unalakleet, one of his afternoon destination’s weather went down so that they could not go there. A quick huddle in the scheduling office and we came up with an alternate plan that got most of the campers home and most of the new campers to Unalakleet for the next camp. Meanwhile Bob, who had been waiting for the weather to lift enough for him to get into Port Alsworth in the Navajo , had to cancel at 5 PM. These cancel decisions are made some much harder when you know how much the youth that you were to take to the Tanalian Bible Camp need this experience. Meanwhile Mike had been troubleshooting 410SP in Godnews Bay and found the problem to be a faulty circuit breaker. He was able to figure a way around the faulty circuit breaker and get the generator to work, thus enabling him to fly home. He had to fly clear of clouds because he had the faulty Attitude Indicator. At 5 PM the bad Attitude Indicator was taken to Anchorage for repair.
The last four days, and especially today, 18 June, have been the most demanding days in the six years I have been involved in scheduling. But it is also very rewarding when you realize how many people you have been able to minister to by getting them to where they need to go.

The picture to the right is a screen shot from the Alaska weather website we use. The color scale for the colored circles goes from Green – great weather to magenta – very poor weather such that we can’t land. On this day we had to fly from Soldotna to Dillingham, Manokotak and Togiak – the 3 villages that are green amongst all the magenta villages.

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The following explains the work one of the ministries we partner with does in the villages. For 14 years Grace Christian High School has been the “hands and feet of Christ” to the youth of village Alaska. Each year the mission teams from Grace Christian visit six villages with two different teams of high school students and teachers. Over the years, Grace Christian has established long- term relationships with seven villages: Nulato, Nondalton, Kokanok, Stebbins, Koyuk, Elim, and Gamble.
The students train for nearly four months, using materials from Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) and Youth with a Mission (YWAM) Due to the plague of suicide which is touching Alaskan villages, the Grace students are also trained in suicide prevention techniques. Many relationships have been established between Grace students and village youth, and the students continue these relationships using social media like Facebook and e-mail. The Grace students “listen” during these conversations for the tell-tale signs of crisis in the lives of their friends. These students reach out to their village friends, and seek outside help for their friends if they believe their friends’ lives may be in danger.
Sue Heritage is one of the adult leaders responsible for these trips. As Sue explained the detailed preparation that goes into these trips, she assured me that “they could not do this without MARC.” The safe, reliable, and affordable transportation provided by MARC is critical to the success of each trip. Often the pilots also help with carrying heavy items, washing dishes for the team, or repairing broken equipment.
Grace Christian High School’s long-term commitment to ministering in the villages is bringing eternal results! This year the first night we were in Nulato, many villagers in their early to mid-twenties came to the gym for the program. The team spoke to them and found out these young adults had first encountered the Grace teams back when they were Kindergarten age! Even though the activities no longer involve these young adults, they come out to see the GCHS students interacting with their younger relatives, and in some cases, their children. They watched the interaction with a demeanor which told me they had fond memories of their times with the Grace teams. I was very impressed by the deep relationships that these teams have established!
This is an example of the type of organization that we partner with to get the message of the hope out to the villagers. It is a privilege to serve with the people in these organizations.