Creative Solution

No ladder? No problem!
Often solving a problem in a remote location calls for creativity.

I was heading over the mountains to the South Coast village of Danowagay with a full load of supplies. Midway through the flight, when I attempted a routine position report, I found I could hear but not transmit on the high frequency (HF) radio. I jotted down a note to tell maintenance about it when I got home, glad that I could still communicate with home base through our V2 tracker system.

Ten minutes later after I landed in Danowagay, the missionary informed me, “A rope is hanging out of the back of the plane!” Hmmm. Sure enough, the long HF antenna wire had snapped at its wing tip connection and was flopping in the breeze. I contacted maintenance on the V2 tracker: typed a message into my iPad and send it via satellite … pretty nifty! I received instructions to remove the antenna so it couldn’t get tangled in the rudder. Nope, I didn’t want that to happen either.



But … how was I supposed to get up on top of the wing tip to remove the mounting hardware? I found just the right items in the load I had hauled in: a wooden crate holding a toilet, and a propane bottle. With some stabilization help from the villagers, we stacked them together, built a ‘jungle ladder’, and got the job done. Airplanes need fixing too, just like people.

An improvised jungle ladder—a crate from a toilet and a propane bottle—gets the job done to fix a broken HF radio antenna.

Brad McFarlane

Brad is a missionary pilot with YAJASI, our partner in Papua, Indonesia. He and his wife, Susan, have served there since 1997.