Transportation Solutions: Aviation Training: Changing With the Times

The early years of mission aviation were dangerous. In fact, JAARS began after its founder, Cameron Townsend, was injured in an aircraft accident. “Uncle Cam” vowed to make flying safer for those who did God’s work: “We must expect the best pilots and the best equipment to transport our young pioneers.” Thus began a role JAARS has performed for almost 70 years—training aviation workers to operate safely in remote areas all over the world.

The training program has had to change over that 70 years. JAARS aircraft have evolved from amphibians, able to land on the rivers of Peru, to turbine-powered aircraft operating in the mountains of countries like Cameroon and Papua New Guinea. Helicopters operate in areas where no runways exist. Navigation/communication equipment has gone from maps and vacuum tubes to GPS navigation and satellite communications.

JAARS has adapted its training accordingly. “On-the-job training” has given way to a professional 16-week pre-field orientation (PFO) taught by experienced aviators and mechanics. Flying in the mountains of North Carolina— the culmination of PFO—was extended from one day to ten, giving students more experience operating from unimproved runways in mountainous terrain.

Pilots train at JAARS during an intensive program nicknamed “Mountain Week.”

No change has created a greater training challenge than the increased use of turbine-powered aircraft by mission organizations. JAARS has responded in a variety of ways:

  • acquiring a Pilatus PC-6 turbine-powered aircraft for its training fleet
  • developing an engine run-stand attached to a functional PT-6 turboprop engine to enable pilots and mechanics to practice operational/maintenance procedures without using an operational aircraft
  • planning a state-of-the-art PC-6 simulator
  • contracting with commercial vendors to provide specialized training

JAARS training may change, but the core values it teaches will stay the same: trust in the Lord; use good judgement; know your personal and aircraft limitations; respect the weather; be professional.

While these principles are constant, training costs are not—they rise every year. Your support of aviation training enables JAARS to keep up with an ever-changing industry—and enables mission workers to reach people who have never heard God’s word.

You can help ensure our pilots and mechanics will continue to receive the best, most up-to-date training possible with your gifts and prayers. To support this project and others like it, please give to our Transportation Solutions or Training Solutions. Thank you for partnering with us in this ministry!