The beginning of October 2017 saw a new Canadian family join the MAF Papua New Guinea programme. Tim and Laura Neufeld, with their two children, Hannah (4 yrs) and Ethan (then 4 mths), arrived in Mt Hagen, the main base where all new staff first get introduced to the life and work in PNG. In December Tim completed his initial in-country flight training; after Christmas, the family moved to their designated home at Rumginae, our outstation in Western Province, located between Kiunga and Tabubil. After some time to unpack, settle in and adjust to the heat and humidity, Tim’s training continued with airstrip checks in the area so that he can eventually fly on his own, serving the isolated communities in Western Province.
Here he shares some of his LOFT* training experiences and encounters during a week at the end of January, already leaving an amazing impact on people’s lives and bringing hope and healing to remote communities in all kind of different ways.
*LOFT … Line-oriented flight training
By this stage in my MAF career, I have proven my aptitude in the Technical Evaluation, trained for and completed the MAF internal base training which is the actual ability to use the aircraft (in my case a GA8 Airvan), and now I am doing the next phase, line training. This is where we consolidate all of the skills and learning into real daily flying – making decisions, using all the tools made available to me, assessing and controlling risks, dealing with people, passengers, airstrips, weather, terrain, ground crews, paperwork, duty time, stresses, pressures, family life, heat, humidity … everything that goes into the day’s work of a MAF pilot.
From outside I thought the training and induction for MAF PNG seemed a little much, but now that I am here I am grateful for all the training I am receiving and see its value.
Flying here can be very hard work.
The last week…
My trainer right now is Rick Velvin, a long-term veteran pilot of MAF with an exceptional amount of experience here in PNG. Rick and I have been working long hours. He is officially retired from MAF but has agreed to come here to do this training with me, leaving his wife to her work in New Zealand. Since he is only here for a limited amount of time we want to take advantage of that and get as much done as we can.
Some of what we accomplished this week was:
- Flew our neighbor, Rosie Crowter who is a 20-year veteran missionary from the United Kingdom, to Kawito where she did a week of Bible teaching.
- Flew 3 doctors in residency to villages for the outstation work component of their training.
- Flew medications and dispensary stock to outstation health centres.
- Took urgently-needed vaccinations to a village dealing with a whooping cough outbreak.
- Brought 5 students into Rumginae to start their first year of “Community Health Worker” training at the school here.
- Flew several young people from their village to the main centre to continue their high school education.
- Evaluated two airstrips that had been closed due to lack of maintenance.
- Transported a woman to a hospital who had been in labour with twins, one baby was born healthy, but the second was stuck. We flew the woman and a caregiver, along with the healthy newborn about 40 minutes to the provincial capital.
- Medevaced another woman into Rumginae who had given birth to a son but had severe complications. She was laid down on the floor of the aircraft, with her husband holding the newborn baby for the flight.
I am now taking a day of rest. It is cool and rainy today, a welcome relief. Now that I have some time to think back on what I have learned this past week – and there was lots – the main lesson was this:
(I’m not making any grand revelations here, but truly important none the less)
There is so much work to do here, so many people in need of God’s provision. I cannot help everybody, but I can help many by God’s grace.