You can provide vital aviation training

Before pandemic lockdowns, Gavin Jones and Josh Eicholtz teamed up to deliver New Testaments and guests to a Gumawana community in Nubogeta village on a tiny island in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

But how do you transport guests and boxes of New Testaments to such a remote location? By airplane and helicopter, of course!

Josh first flew guests and Scriptures to Vivigani—an airstrip on Goodenough Island—in the Kodiak. Then, Gavin completed the journey via helicopter. “The helicopter saved the visitors a 12- to 24-hour boat ride on rough waters,” Gavin said. “It was only a 13-minute flight in the helicopter.”

Landing the helicopter in Nubogeta was a demanding process. Gavin had to land on the village’s soccer field, the only flat spot on the island. And strong winds can make landing and takeoff tricky. Josh summed up the skills of the PNG helicopter pilots: “I’m impressed with our helicopter pilots and the work they do in this country!”

The soccer field-turned helipad Photo credit Josh Eicholtz

Gavin’s always amazed at the ruggedness and remoteness of PNG, which creates many challenges for travel. “The helicopter quickly and efficiently bypasses many of PNG’s transportation challenges.”

Since most of our overseas partners have transitioned from piston-powered to turbine-powered helicopters, JAARS is replacing our piston-powered helicopter with a turbine-powered R66 to better equip pilots who train at JAARS.

Gavin says, “A turbine [powered] helicopter will equip pilots in training far better for the equipment they’ll be using on the field. The things they learn in such a machine at JAARS will be far more applicable to the world we fly in here, and we won’t need to deal with negative habits learned in a piston helicopter that need to be unlearned in a turbine.”