The Muddiest I Ever Got an Airplane
The extreme northern part of Brazil is an amazing place of mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and, of course, the Amazon rainforest. It provides spectacular scenery, but the terrain makes it hard to get missionary teams in and out of the locations where they work … unless you’ve got a rugged airplane that can handle short, muddy, bumpy, wet, grassy, curved runways tucked into mountain valleys! Other transportation options are not viable: waterfalls restrict boat traffic and the jungle restricts overland transport. So, the airplane is a vital resource that enables missionaries to work here doing church planting, discipleship, leading a government-sponsored primary school, and encouraging use of the newly translated New Testament. All the missionaries’ supplies plus food for the school must be flown in.
Recently, I flew three of our Asas de Socorro pilots to this runway to teach them how to land there. Record high river levels had left the ground saturated. Following a morning rain shower, we arrived in bright sunshine, but the runway had not drained. After touchdown, the brakes were ineffective due to the slick grass. When we hit the massive mud puddle right in the middle of the runway, mud spewed everywhere, even onto the windshield.
These were unsafe runway conditions for doing training flights! So, we lunched with the missionaries, gave our plane a thorough bath, and blasted off. I look forward to returning to this sliver in the endless expanse of the jungle, not only for the fun of landing at a runway like this, but also to continue supplying these dedicated missionaries with all they need for their life-giving work.
You can watch a video of the landing here and find out more about this runway here.