A Win-Win

By Rachel Greco

For an update on this story, go here.

Sassy the Cessna here. I don’t know about you, but when I’m about to move somewhere new (which hasn’t been often), I get shivers up my fuselage.

I’ve enjoyed my years in Arizona serving with Ethnos360 by helping them train their mission pilots, but I’m looking forward to this new journey I’m about to take to JAARS.

The “new” Cessna 206 that will serve in Cameroon after it’s been refitted.

This journey actually begins in Africa, where SIL Cameroon* was looking a newer Cessna 206 to replace the one they’ve flown for many years. JAARS aided them in their search by investigating various aircraft for almost a year. They sent someone to evaluate an aircraft in California, but had to turn it down due to corrosion.

When a Cessna appeared on a used airplane website, JAARS sent two former JAARS pilots, who now live in Switzerland, to Germany to check it out. According to Craig Russell, the Vice President of Transportation, “We were ready to close the deal, but after the visual inspection we found that it had been in an accident and repaired, and there was concern that some damage remained. It was a bit of an unknown. Concerned they wouldn’t find another affordable Cessna, JAARS asked the Cameroon team about the aircraft, but they didn’t want to risk it.”  

JAARS was growing discouraged about finding a low-mileage, affordable aircraft when….I came into the picture!

Ethnos360, who I serve with, decided to change their overseas fleet to turbine-engine aircraft and helicopters. This change meant they no longer needed me for training. So Ethnos360 agreed to sell me. Meanwhile, Jim Metzler, JAARS field support, reached out to MAF and Ethnos360 asking if they had any aircraft that met the JAARS criteria. MAF didn’t, but Ethnos360 told them they planned to sell me.

So Jeyson Braun, a pilot mechanic who once flew with Asas De Socorro and now serves as a mechanic at JAARS, came with Daryl Young, the department manager of Cameroon, to inspect me—an Ethnos360 aircraft. Reaching people in remote areas with Christ’s love is definitely a partnership effort!  Jeyson had done maintenance on Cessnas in Brazil, so I was confident he knew what he was looking for.

I’m grateful for Ethnos’ careful maintenance and upgrade they made to my take-off gear so that I can now take off on a much shorter runway and at lower air speed—unlike other Cessnas. This is apparently essential in flying to the remote areas where I’ll be serving in Cameroon.

Dennis Freeland fuels the Cessna 206 in Cameroon that will be replaced the Sassy the Cessna.

Jeyson and Daryl were also impressed that while the current Cameroon aircraft has more than 14,000 hours, I’ve only flown 2,000 hours. They liked the quality of my metal and airframe—no doubt due to all my weekly nose masks! Based on all these factors, they decided to buy me.

Jeyson declared my purchase would be a win-win for both Ethnos360 and JAARS. “Ethnos was needing to sell [the aircraft], so we were very happy to see the plane that had served them in training for many years would still be used to further God’s kingdom overseas! JAARS is blessed by being able to purchase a plane with a good history that has been excellently maintained and was already a tool for God’s work. It will continue as a tool, just in a different location for a different purpose.”

The JAARS team will need to give me a makeover once I arrive in January, since some of my innards are a bit outdated. They’ll give me a new engine, new up-to-date instruments and navigation equipment, and other modifications to make me field-ready.

Jeyson’s words encouraged me and I hope they do you too: “This [aircraft], coming from a fellow missionary agency was definitely an answer to prayer.” Thanks for praying for me! I’m thrilled to be able to serve those in Cameroon who don’t yet know about the Lord’s love.

JAARS still needs funds for my purchase, a new engine, and all the necessary modifications. Will you consider giving to Transportation Solutions here so I’ll be ready to serve the Bibleless people of Cameroon in about a year. Thank you!

*SIL Cameroon is a JAARS partner.