Transformed and Ready for Service

After many years of service in Cameroon, the JAARS R44 has a new look and is taking on a new job.
Photo credit:  Allan Sawyer

This red R44 helicopter flew hundreds of hours and carried many passengers in Cameroon. It served the mission community well over the years before it was replaced with a newer R66. The R44 was then shipped back to JAARS—in need of a major overhaul.

Last June, the R44 overhaul project began: updated avionics and instrumentation, a new engine, an intense and detailed inspection, replacement of worn parts, and even a new paint job with the new JAARS colors! That’s when Jon and the maintenance crew at JAARS applied their skills and talents to the project.

The helicopter arrived at the JAARS hangar in pieces. Photo credit:  Jon Thomas

Multiple JAARS mechanics and volunteers worked close to 2,500 man hours to get it ready to fly.

Jon working on the main rotor drive. Photo credit:  Mary Beth Johnson
Dan Snow installs balance weights for the engine’s cooling fan. Photo provided by Dan Snow.
Weighing the helicopter. Photo credit: Dan Snow
Measuring the height of the tail from the belly to determine center of gravity.  The entire helicopter is off the ground during this check.  Photo credit: Dan Snow
Pilot Jeff Johnson and mechanic Dan Snow collect data from the first runups after reassembly of the helicopter. Photo provided by Dan Snow
At our most recent JAARS Day, guests assembled in a prayer circle and prayed earnestly to dedicate the repurposed R44 for service to the Lord. Photo credit:  Mary Beth Johnson

The JAARS R44 now has a new job with the Aviation Training team—helping to train missionary pilots who will serve overseas in countries where rough terrain mandates the use of a helicopter. It will also serve at Missions at the Airport events around the United States and help tell others about JAARS and Bible translation.

R44 carrying passengers at a Missions at the Airport event.  Photo credit:  Mike Mower

It has been neat to be a part of the process of taking a worn, well-used helicopter and turning it into something new and ready to fly for many more hours!

Jon and Tina Thomas

Jon and Tina Thomas

Jon, his wife, Tina, and their four children served with YAJASI in Indonesia for six years before transitioning to JAARS in Waxhaw, North Carolina, in 2013. Jon is an airplane/helicopter mechanic in the JAARS hangar, and Tina works as a trainer with the Learning and Development Department at JAARS.