Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Turning Wrenches... Still

Turing Wrenches... Still
        Life here in Bolivia is a lesson in patience. We make our plans and they never seem to go as we planed. Our characters are being polished, and we hope to come out more usable by God.
        As part of the lesson in patience, we are still in Santa Cruz working hard to finish the work on the planes here so we can move to Guayaramerin. Even though we would rather be gone already, much good progress has been made on the planes. Much needed maintenance and repair. Here are pictures showing what has been happening in the hangar.
      The Mooney is getting a face lift painting! It was looking really sad and faded from sitting in the sun for so long, and from flying through rain. A new coat of paint is making it look real sharp. Johannes and Gabriel have been faithful workers on the planes. Johannes is from Austria and Gabriel from Argentina.
The Mooney is also getting her landing gear sanded down and painted.
The landing gear has many hard to reach parts and in spite of the guys best efforts sanding by hand, there were little corners that still had paint and rust. Steven wanted to sand blast them, and asked about where that could be done. He was told no one in Santa Cruz did that anymore and so, even though he didn't really believe that no one sand blasted things here, he decided that he would build his own sandblaster. It was a learning experience, and in the end it worked!

Top Left: Version 1.0                               Top Right: Version 2.0
Steven's  version 1.0 was a 0.5 L bottle and just too small. The sand emptied out real fast. Version 2.0 was a 2 L bottle. It was much better, but too much sand came out with the air and a lot of the sand ended up hitting its own sand instead of coming in contact with the metal. It worked, just slow.

Top Left: Version 3.1                                    Top Right: Version 4.0
Version 3.1 was a bucket with straps to hold down the lid. (version 3.0 was without the straps and the lid of the bucket went flying. There were some guys who thought that was really funny) Version 4.0 worked great, although another air compressor had to be added  to have a fairly continual flow of air. Now they are finishing sandblasting the last of the Mooney's landing gear and will then have the gear painted with a paint that is baked on. This paint job will hopefully last a long time.
The other plane that has been receiving a lot of attention is the normally aspirated 182. Here the guys had to loosen the wing strut to be able to get the fuel lines hooked up to the repaired fuel bladder in the wing tanks. 

Left: My work in progress                            Right: The old interior pieces layed out
      Even I have been pressed into service! The 182's interior was really not nice. The carpet on the floor was a nondescript color and even though it had been washed, it was questionable if the blood and vomit really came out. The wall panels also had carpet, and it was disintegrating. I think the carpet was original from the 1960's. There were parts of the interior that were still the original 60's green/blue. The rest had been repainted to a grey. So out came the paint, my sewing machine, and some new fabric, and we replaced all the interior that was not easily cleanable with something that was. Vomit and blood are no longer hard to clean up! The seats were left as they were. They are still in good, usable condition. 

Bottom Left: The panel as it was                Bottom Right: The panel all painted up
     The top picture is of the new flooring and interior. All the interior plastic pieces were painted one shade of grey, and the instrument panel was sanded down and painted black again (thanks Johannes!). I sewed up the new head liner, and all together it looks real sharp (and did I already say easily cleanable?) You can also see some of the many cargo tie down rings that were added to make cargo safer and more secure to transport.
     The instrument panel was loosing its paint in big flakes, making the instruments hard to see easily. It still had some of the original colors, and didn't look so great anymore. Now it too looks sharp and its instruments easily read.

More views of the new interior.
Wilson Family News:
Midwife Course: God answered my question about whether or not I should study the course on becoming a midwife. God provided the tuition and a part of the text book cost in time for me to meet the $800 discount promotion. The course is the long distance midwife course. It gives the book knowledge, which I can study at my own pace.  After this, with two years of clinical experience after this I can write the NARM exam in the US. The school is called Mercy in Action (mercyinaction.com)
   (A special thanks to Clint and Mindy, the Weaver family, and the Flinkers!)
     Baby: The bump is growing! Sara, Steven, and Timothy are having sympathy symptoms. Their watermelon or papaya bumps were eaten fairly quickly. Mine is still there!
      To the right is a sneak peak at Timothy's little brother.
Daddy's Helper
       There have been a few empty flights going up to Guayara, and we sent what we could. Here Steven is flying some of our living room furniture.
        Our dog Beulah enjoyed checking out the comforts of the stretcher with Timothy.

Thank you to all of you back home for all your prayers and support. You are a big part of the reason anything can be done here.
God Bless You!
We are volunteer missionaries entirely funded by donations. 100% of your donations go directly to us and our project in Bolivia. If you'd like to be a part, we accept tax-deductible donations through Gospel Ministries International, Inc.

Donate via:
1.  PayPal  (timt@gospelministry.org)
2.  Check:  P.O. Box 506, Collegedale, TN 37315

With either method, please include a note stating:  "Bolivia Aviation Services - Wilson"

Thanks for your support!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Overhauling the Aviation Project in Bolivia.

A medevac to the city of Trinidad Bolivia.

The aviation project is flying in Bolivia, and is helping people in some towns and cities that are difficult to travel to during the rainy season due to bad roads. Medivacs are being made, missionaries being transported, and supplies are being hauled.
 However, the aviation project is still limited. The airplanes that the aviation project has in Bolivia are still U.S. registered. This means that they are currently limited to airports with control towers. Bolivia actually has quite a few control towered airports in remote towns. The control tower may just be a wooden shed with a solar panel, battery, and radio next to a grass strip at the town. But, this still limits the aviation project because there are vast areas of jungle that do not have control towered airports. The planes are not able to help the people who live in extremely remote areas who would benefit the most from the airplanes. It is the very remote, and hard to get to by land places, that we want to go and serve. 

This is the Rio Beni in northern Bolivia. People live in communities along rivers like this, often with no road access.

In the past, the airplanes were allowed to fly freely anywhere in Bolivia with their U.S. registrations. They helped many people in the very remote parts of Bolivia. Once, when the planes still had permission to fly anywhere in Bolivia, I returned to a community that I had previously flown to which was five days by boat up river from the closest medical care.  There are no roads to that community. The planes had been not flying due to maintenance and customs temporary importation paperwork. When I landed in that community I found fresh graves there, some large, and some small. Without the help of an airplane some of the sick people had died in the village before they could be transported to medical help. Things that are easily treatable become life threatening when treatment is five or more days travel on the river. It took me only half an hour to fly there.

An example of the type of graves along the runway in a community.

When someone is going to die from something that is easily treatable and you spend one hour taking them to the hospital where they receive the help needed, they are very grateful and open to you. Opened hearts mean beautiful opportunities to share about the God who rescues us in more than just a physical sense.
 We also took doctors out to the communities, saving the doctors many weeks in travel time. . Another example of how the planes have helped was once we were camping out in a warehouse at an ADRA building in northern Bolivia. They received a call that a woman had been bit by a venomous snake and she had six hours before she would die. They said it would take seven hours for an ambulance to take her to the closest hospital where there was anti venom. She would die in the ambulance. We rushed to the airport in an ambulance and after a 20 minute flight we were picking up the snake bitten woman. She was at the hospital within an hour being treated. If we had not been ready to jump in the plane, she would have been dead. It only took an hour of our time, and she was a life saved.

The airplane that is designated for the jungles of northern Bolivia.

In order to return to this kind of operation there are some things that need to happen. This is what we are praying about.
1.       I need to become a Bolivian pilot.
a.       People have been very generous and we currently have enough to cover the cost of obtaining a Bolivian pilot certificate. I will have to go back to flight school here to learn how airplanes fly in Bolivia.
2.       The plane needs to become a Bolivian registered and certified plane.
a.       $1,500 Paper work for registering and certifying the plane.
b.      $6,500 to $7,000 Engine overhaul will be required.
c.       $2,000 Propeller overhaul will be required.
d.      $600 Emergency Locator Transmitter
e.      Inspection for Bolivian airworthiness certificate. Cost undetermined at this time.
f.        Undetermined costs.
g.       If you are impressed to help fund this process include a note that says “N3538F Bolivian registration and certification”
3.       Helen and I are planning on moving to the jungles of northern Bolivia.
a.       We currently have enough to cover the cost of moving.
We plan to push the plane through this process, get a Bolivian pilot certificate, and then move up to northern Bolivia. At the Richard Gates Technical School in northern Bolivia where we will be based, they recently built a new church, and we are planning on moving into the old church.
God Bless,

Steven Wilson

The Rest, of the Rest of the Story

“What do you need?” asked the colonel.
                “I need an investigator to inspect my plane.” I said. I was back at international airport the morning after the boy died in the plane. If you missed that part of the story you can read about it here.
I had just spent the past hour and half trying to get the drug police to stamp my flight plan so that the flight planning office would accept it. There had been nobody in the drug police office to stamp my flight plan. I went back out to the platform where the K-9 drug police were and told them that there was nobody in the office and asked them to call somebody. Back I went into the office and still nobody was there. This took place a number of times. Each time I would have to go through security. I needed a drug police investigator to inspect the plane with the K-9 drug police, but there had been nobody in the drug police office. The police were busy with airline flights.
A colonel was inspecting the airport drug police. I told the colonel about the mother that was waiting at the domestic airport with the coffin on the platform. I showed him some of the pictures from the day before and he said that he would go look at the plane with the K-9 drug police. I don’t know if this had some effect on when we were later investigated by the drug police. You can read about when we were investigated.
There is no aviation gasoline at the international airport, so I had to make the five minute flight to the domestic airport to fuel the plane. I landed and pulled up to the fuel pumps and told the guy there to fill the plane with fuel. I turned around and found fuel running out of the wing onto the asphalt. The plane has four fuel tanks, but only two usable. The two long range auxiliary tanks had been disconnected from the main fuel tanks to work on resealing them. The long range tanks had a placard stating “Inoperative. Do Not Fill.” in English. The fuel guy only spoke Spanish. The placards did not avert the tank being filled. I had forgotten to tell him which tanks to fill, and he filled the long range tanks.
It was surprising how well the unsealed tanks held fuel. If the tanks had leaked any slower, I may not have noticed the fuel dripping out and got in the plane to move it across the platform. That would have been very bad. When this model of airplane engine is started hot it often shoots some flame out the exhaust onto the ground under the belly. That would have most likely have ignited a large fire at the fuel pumps.
I was relieved to have noticed the fuel leak. The plane was pushed to a spot on the platform off by itself. The fire fighters came out and we watched as the fuel leaked out of the long range tanks onto the ground and evaporated. Now I had a problem. They would not put fuel in the operational main tanks, and the mother was waiting on the other side of the platform with her son in a coffin. I amde a quick trip to the cargo section of the airport and bought a permanent marker and wrote a placard over the long range fuel tanks in Spanish. This calmed the worries of the authorities and we waited for the plane to dry out before pulling it over to the fuel pumps for a second try.

The mother with her deceased son returning home.

The boy loaded into the ambulance in Guayaramerin.

Those two days were very exhausting stressful days for me, but they were great days for God. The rest of the story was uneventful. I flew the mother with her dead son back home to the rest of their family. They were very grateful. I want to thank everybody who makes it possible for us to help people in need. Thank you for your prayers, they help a lot (i.e. not going up in smoke at the fuel pumps ect.). Thank you for your financial support to make this happen.
God bless,

Steven Wilson