Together We Can

By Rachel Greco

Lyle Wyse, a JAARS-trained aircraft mechanic, spent most of his 33 years of service in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Now he and his wife have returned to JAARS, where he serves as Aviation’s safety manager. Although he now spends most of his time carrying out risk assessments and managing safety reports on the computer, God unexpectedly gave him an opportunity for some hands-on work in a hangar again—in Africa.  

Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia, Africa operates two aircraft—a Bell helicopter and a Caravan airplane—with one mechanic. When their helicopter recently required a maintenance inspection, their current mechanic, Mark Heath, needed assistance to finish the task. 

Kris Stroop, the program manager for Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia, contacted his wife’s friend Mark Spangler, a JAARS-trained pilot, who serves in Cameroon. Kris hoped Mark would know someone who could help. Mark then contacted the JAARS aviation director, Rick Nachtigal, asking if anyone at JAARS could go to Liberia and help with the inspection. 

Rick was glad to help Samaritan’s Purse, especially because Samaritan’s Purse has loaned JAARS their helicopter to use for Pre-Field Orientation training a few times. He asked Lyle—who has many years’ experience of working on Bell helicopters from his time in PNG—if he would be interested in going to Liberia. After praying about it, Lyle agreed to go. 

Lyle’s original plans for a 12-day stint with Samaritan’s Purse stretched to 16 days. Once he arrived, Lyle realized that their Caravan was also grounded for inspection. The mechanic, Mark, worked on the Caravan for a few days, and Lyle was able to help Mark complete the rigging and other necessary work on the Caravan. Then they spent the rest of their time inspecting the helicopter together. 

Some of the staff at Samartitan’s Purse in Liberia Lyle worked with (Levi, Abiodu, Ben, Josh, Kris, Mark, and Roland)

Lyle walked through each inspection and service item with Mark, providing training and duplicate inspections. “It was a lot of work,” Lyle recalls, “but a lot of fun to get back into some maintenance work.” Even though it had been a few years since Lyle had done hands-on maintenance on the helicopter, it all came back quickly.

Lyle working on the helicopter

According to Lyle, the highlight was “serving an organization that serves the people of Liberia. [I enjoyed] using my skills to help so that others can have the opportunity to get the relief they need and experience the love of God through the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse.” This ministry has several programs currently operating in this country that’s still recovering from civil war: SPICE, a project of community evangelism; RECAL—agricultural training and support; Active Fellowship, a sports mentorship/evangelism project; LIGHT—an educational project, and WASH, a project that involves water, sanitation, and hygiene to improve communities. 

Most of these projects rely on the Caravan airplane or the helicopter, so it was necessary to get the aircraft back in the air as soon as possible. “Any backlog to maintenance translates into a reduction in time and efficiency for any projects that Samaritan’s Purse is conducting,” Kris said. “Lyle’s presence significantly reduced the time it took for both aircraft to return to service, and boosted the knowledge and confidence level of our current mechanic regarding helicopter maintenance.”

Lyle enjoyed teaching Mark more about the Bell helicopter, the terminology of the aircraft and the areas that require more thorough inspections. “It was very rewarding to be able to train someone in an area that I’m familiar with that somebody else needs to have more understanding of.” 

Lyle making tracking adjustments on Samaritan Purse’s helicopter

Mechanics are hard to find in the world of mission aviation, which makes partnering with those who have the same goal as JAARS—to share the gospel of Jesus—of utmost importance. Kris realizes this need and is thankful for this partnership: “We are thankful that JAARS was willing and able, and that God brought the pieces together in a short time and at the right time to open the doors for our operations to continue. Together we can do what we can’t do alone.” 

You too can help us do together what we can’t do alone for the kingdom of God. Click here to see how, and join us in prayer for more aircraft mechanics.