Little Details Matter

Our Bible translator friends, Mike and Amy Martin

Recently, our friends, Mike and Amy Martin, flew out to their village, Kosarek, to continue their Bible translation project. They plan to finish and dedicate the New Testament and portions of the Old Testament in the Mek Kosarek language by December 2022. But since only an estimated ten percent of the Kosarek people know how to read, a strike team of ‘literacy ninjas’ also flew there to head up a literacy workshop for the people of Kosarek. (Okay, okay, they’re not actually ninjas, but they’re good at what they do). Their reading materials include many Bible stories and Sunday school lessons translated into Mek Kosarek.

Kosarek airstrip                                                                            Photo by Creston Martin

The Martins and the literacy team both needed air transportation out to Kosarek, and that’s where our pilots fit in. Not many small aircraft can safely operate at Kosarek’s challenging 1,135-foot airstrip. It’s  narrow and sometimes slippery, with 6% slope at touchdown increasing to 25% slope at rollout. Pilots flying into Kosarek require very accurate instruments so that they know their precise airspeed and altitude on approach into this tiny patch of grass cut out of the Papuan jungle. Although the steep airstrip is marginal, it’s much safer than hiking in for days through mountainous rain forest.

That brings me to an important task I worked on recently with Sam, our avionics technician. We calibrated the altimeters, airspeed indicators, and their associated systems in one of our Pilatus Porters. I connected a big yellow calibration box with test tubes to the airplane. Made it look like it was getting a checkup at a hospital! While Sam controlled the yellow box to simulate different airspeeds and altitudes, I climbed into the cockpit and read what the instruments showed. We compared the numbers and tried to eliminate as much error as possible. The little details matter. More-precise instruments help our pilots get more consistent, safe landings.

YAJASI Maintenance Team                                              Photo by Peter Noeth

Sometimes I forget the end result of my efforts when I’m fixing planes inside the hangar. From what I see and hear though, friends like the Martins depend on safe, reliable transportation to make their Bible translation work possible. We’re so glad to play this part in serving the Kosarek people!

Jonathan Schultz

Jonathan Schultz serves as a pilot-mechanic with our aviation partner YAJASI in Papua, Indonesia. He and his wife, Molly, moved there in 2017.