VIP Passengers

A few weeks ago I flew a team of nurses to a little village called Kaver (KAwer).
The Nagi people there have no medical care, so the nurses spent the day doing worm treatments, vaccinations, and treating everyone they had time for. They told me they wanted three hours on the ground but I knew that would turn into five.

We fly a lot of medivacs. Recently, I saw one of the coolest stretchers ever. Some villagers had carried this lady, Podelma, on a one-day hike from their nearby village to the airstrip so we could transport her to the hospital in town. Without the help of her friends and our medivac service she would never have had the opportunity for hospital treatment.

Some medivacs aren’t very happy ones. One of my passengers was a kid who had been shot accidentally in the head with a pellet gun. Before I transported him, I gave the villagers instruction about gun safety.

The very next day I medivacked another kid from a different village. He had been shot in the eye with an arrow. His injury hit close to home for me since my dad lost an eye at eleven, and my nephew has a friend who just lost an eye last year. I’m glad God gave us two of them! And we’ll get new ones in heaven.

I’ve heard from a trusted friend that a broken femur deserves a 10 on the pain scale. I checked out this report when I flew a medivac for a policeman out in a remote village. He had slipped and fallen in his wet bathroom, breaking his femur right up near his right hip. And yes, I could see unsplinted femur pain isn’t a fun thing to experience by any means. It probably deserves that 10. Thankfully, he was near a village where the PC-12 could land, so I gave Mr. Surhayono a nice smooth one-hour ride at 23,000 feet over the mountains back to Sentani to a waiting ambulance. His wife texted me a few weeks later saying that with surgery and a pin he is on the road to recovery.

The very next day I flew one of our Porters to pick up a family and bring them out to town for immigration paperwork. On the way home a radio call alerted me that a little girl named Telipa in Kirimu village needed help. She had slipped off a log and broken her arm the day before. The man on the radio said she “couldn’t sleep very well.” Could I come pick her up? (I wouldn’t be sleeping very well either with my arm broken above the elbow.)

I was happy to extend some care to her. Telipa was extremely tough and stoic, holding her unsplinted broken arm with her good arm during the flight. In two days of flying: an arm and a leg.

My passengers were all from very hard-to-reach villages with no access to medical care. Without transport they might have received no treatment at all. I’m glad our mercy flights are a practical but vital way to share God’s love for all his people.

Brad McFarlane

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