As we were finalizing this story and getting it ready to post online, we were saddened to learn that Byron Clingerman had passed away in an auto accident last week and is now in the company of his Savior. Byron has been connected with MAF for 40-plus years—as a supporter, friend, MAF Advocate, and volunteer. We are grateful for the many ways he gave of himself and his talents to support the ministry. He will be missed by many. Please remember his family in prayer. Here is the story as it was originally written.
One man volunteers his unique expertise to help MAF
Years ago, while signing up to become an MAF Advocate, Byron Clingerman was asked, “What territory would you like to serve?”
“How about the territory called Earth?” laughed Byron.
His services are needed around the world. He travels some 40 weeks out of the year! And for mission aviation organizations like MAF, Byron is a Godsend!
Byron is an industry expert in the field of non-destructive testing (NDT) for the aeronautics industry. NDT is a non-invasive way to ensure that a material, component, or structure is performing in a safe, reliable manner, without defects. NDT can identify areas of stress and fatigue, or corrosion that could cause a part to fail.
Because of Byron’s NDT, MAF was recently spared a massive expense—not to mention avoiding potential calamity!
On a recent trip to Papua, Indonesia, Byron was testing MAF’s KODIAK nose gear forks after tiny cracks were found in some. The first cracks were visible to the naked eye. But when Byron tested using an eddy current machine, which uses electromagnetic induction to look for flaws or cracks, he discovered hairline cracks in the bolt holes on some of the other forks. He followed up with penetrant testing, where fluorescent dye is used to illuminate the cracks.
“The methods are not unlike what hospitals use for diagnosing patients,” explained Byron. “They’ll inject dyes and watch it go through the body, and we use dyes with the penetrant method. And eddy current is similar to an MRI.”
Byron volunteers his expertise to MAF and other mission organizations that have an aviation arm, like Samaritan’s Purse, MMS, and JAARS. That makes him a unique asset within the world of missionary aviation.
Byron’s services are invaluable.
Without them, the cost of hiring qualified inspectors to do NDT testing at certain flight hour intervals would be too much for missionary flight organizations. A single NDT inspection for a PC-12, for instance, could cost as much as $25,000. Whereas, Byron simply requires an airline ticket and a place to stay, which is typically at an MAF guest house or with a missionary family.
When Byron returned from Indonesia, he carried one of the forks with him and brought it to the manufacturer, Quest. He wrote a paper on how to test the part and shared that with Quest and other aviation maintenance facilities. Right now it’s in the process of going through the FAA to become an official Field Service Instruction.
“Once Quest learned about the cracks, they decided to redesign the nose fork so it would be more robust,” said Byron. “MAF has gone ahead before the FAA requirement is issued [to replace the forks].”
In the meantime, MAF mechanics are doing repetitive inspections on the nose forks, using older eddy current equipment that Byron has managed to secure. He’s trained MAF staff so they can do their own inspections periodically.
Opening doors and planting seeds
As an expert in NDT, Byron often gets to speak to others in his field. And when he does, it gives him a chance to advocate for MAF and share how he’s using his talents to support Christian and humanitarian operations around the world.
His profession also opens doors for him to speak at high school career days, where he can share the MAF story and inspire young men and women to consider a career in missionary aviation—or even to make them wonder what would prompt someone to serve in this way.
Byron’s God-given technical aptitude supports MAF’s standard for safety across its fleet. He says his “thanks” comes in the form of interacting with MAF families in the field … hearing about the impact they are having among isolated people and enjoying their fellowship. Which in turn gives Byron more stories to share throughout his territory called Earth.
Find out more about how Byron’s tests AND YOU can help MAF keep our planes flying safely. LEARN MORE
If you’re an A&P mechanic and qualified NDT specialist who loves Jesus and you’d like to join with other volunteers as part of the MAF Center for NDE (non-destruction evaluation), contact Rolland Trempert at email@example.com.