During the past several weeks, I have been privileged to have the opportunity to cross-train other missionary pilots in the utilization of gyroplanes. I made these contacts during Bensen Days and Sun N’ Fun.
In May, Chuck McConkey, chief pilot of Harvest Aviation stopped by KLHZ for a couple of days of gyro training. Chuck is a Vietnam War veteran; who spent his tour as a Huey pilot. He also spent time in Central America during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s as a missionary pilot in both airplanes and helicopters.
We spent 2 days together training and discussing the use of light-aircraft, especially gyroplanes, in the mission field. He enjoyed his flying immensely and stated that Harvest Aviation would like to work with Great Commission Aviation in any way possible in order to facilitate the use of micro-aviation in the mission field.
In June, I was asked to drive down to Keystone Heights, Florida to train with the College of Missionary Aviation. This a newer institution designed for students to complete a Bachelor’s degree and their commercial pilot rating within 24 months. They do not get a break and it is intense! Tim Huggins is the President of the college and a Helicopter CFI. The college purchased a gyroplane (see my blog post about Sun N’ Fun) to be used to build time towards the Commercial Helicopter Rating. However, after I spent a couple of days in Keystone Heights, he began to see the benefit of the gyro itself in mission work.
Since Tim is already a Helicopter CFI, I was playing the part of student while he trained to add his Gyroplane CFI. We were able to get a log of flying in between the normal afternoon Florida thunderstorms.
My living accommodations was a rent house used as the boys’ dorm. I didn’t remember how noisy college boys are! Some are up past midnight, while others are up at 5AM for work. I woke up every time the door closed! I slept like a baby the night I got home!
The whole family is going back to Keystone Heights in early July as Tim requested that I help staff, fly and speak at the Missionary Aviation Camp held the first week of July at Lake Swan Camp. Michael is able to attend as a camper and is very excited! We will see what mission and ministry opportunities arise in the coming weeks!