A: We were accepted in January 2010. I resigned from my previous job and we went on support in November. We left South Africa in January 2011 for orientation in Cairns, Australia. We arrived in Papua New Guinea in March.
Q: How did God lead you to become an MAF pilot?
A: It started when I was at school and I had a passion for flying. I felt that I wanted to serve God and, because of my interest in aviation, I thought that becoming a missionary pilot would be the ideal way. I read many books on the subject and first heard about MAF when I was still at school. I went on to study aeronautical engineering and then worked in the UK as an engineer to save money to learn to fly. Throughout this time God kept confirming that He eventually wanted me to serve Him in this way. When I returned to South Africa I learnt to fly and after getting my licence, I got a job as an instructor in KwaZulu-Natal. During this time, although I knew that God wanted me to pursue His dream for me, there were times when I was discouraged and felt that it would never happen. I believed that God hadn’t given me the release to go ahead and so I was waiting for His timing. Eventually God spoke to my wife and me at the same time, confirming for us that the timing was right. We then went through the application process and were accepted. Since we joined MAF, we have seen how God was training us, and preparing us and we praise Him for how He led us to serve here in Papua New Guinea.
Q: If you could fly any aircraft what would it be?
A: A DC3. I like classic aircraft, so most planes on my wish list are the older ones. In terms of MAF aircraft, they don’t have a big variety in the fleet. I have already flown the GA8, C206 and the twin otter. The other two main types are the Caravan and the PC12, both of which I would love to fly sometime, but the float plane Caravan would be top of the list.
Q: What is the shortest runway on which you have landed?
A: It is called Owena, and it is in the Eastern highlands of Papua New Guinea. It is 380m long and has a 12.5% slope. Because it is so steep, we can fly in and out in a fully loaded C206.
Q: What is the most challenging thing you have ever had to do in your line of work?
A: I haven’t had too many really challenging situations. The flying, although technically challenging, is what we pilots generally thrive on. There are things that are emotionally challenging, for example flying in a medivac after a mother has been in labour for two days, the baby has died and she now needs a Caesarean section. Another example is flying a sick person into town for medical treatment only to fly them back to the bush two weeks later, because the hospital has said they can’t help and they need the bed for someone else. So, you know you are flying these people back to die in the bush.
Q: Can you tell us about one of the most rewarding experiences you have had?
A: I could write about the medivacs that we fly and the missionaries that we transport, but sometimes, it is the other stuff that means a lot to the people. Most of the people in our area depend on their coffee crops to earn money to buy basics, such as oil and salt for cooking. They also need money to pay for school fees for their children. If the crop is bad or we can’t fly the coffee into town, then they have no way of earning an income. On one day, we did 16 sectors, and flew about 12 500kg of coffee out of one bush village. At the end of the day when we landed, the people from the village, who were in town to collect and sell the coffee, all stood up and started clapping. It was great to know that we had made an impact in their lives, and they were grateful that we had managed to help them in this way. The people in Papua New Guinea rely so much on the flying that almost every flight is rewarding in some way. Many of the kids in the villages have never seen a car, but they have seen a lot of aircraft.
Q: Your favourite scripture and why?
A: I don’t have a specific verse that stands out as being my favourite at this time. Different passages stand out at different times depending on what God is trying to say to me. One passage I always enjoy reading is the story of David in 1 and 2 Samuel. I like the fact that even though David was far from perfect, had many faults and did some horrendous things, God still referred to him as a man after His own heart. It is a challenge to me to ensure that I keep my heart focused on God, but also a reassurance to me to know that even when I fail, God still looks at my heart and will forgive me.