Reflections and Farewells

When I saw the silver propeller spinners among the airplane parts, I knew I had to get a picture. They looked so orderly lined up like that, so shiny and so perfect for practicing focus and perspective with my camera. My photography teacher would be proud.

Photo by Rebecca Hopkins.

My husband and I recently had the unique opportunity to be part of the project to dismantle (and document) two recently retired Cessna 185s that had each served almost 50 years in Indonesia. Our team of American and Indonesian staff were joined for a week by other hard-working American and Canadian MAF mechanics to prepare the planes to be shipped back to the States.

Cessna 185 floatplane MAF charity flights Kalimantan Indonesia

Photo by Rebecca Hopkins.

The project soon turned into a reunion of sorts … and a farewell. Three of the mechanics have had a particularly long history with the planes. One—also a pilot—flew the planes years ago, here in Kalimantan. One has regularly come to help us carefully maintain them. Another grew up in Indonesia and may have flown on one of them as a boy. Various Indonesian community members stopped by throughout that week, too. They generously shared their own stories of either investment in or impact from those little planes.

As we worked and shared, the service of these planes could be lined up, the clarity of their impact orderly and shiny and full of focus and perspective. The Indonesian boy whose family members were saved because of MAF medevacs grew up to become a pastor who cares deeply about bringing hope to his community. The girl who was scared that first time she rode along with her sick relative in an MAF airplane grew up to invest in the youth around her.

Base Manager Brad Hopkins, right, and visitors at the MAF floatplane base swap stories about two retired Cessna 185s. Photo by Rebecca Hopkins.

Many of the stories, when they were happening, seemed uncertain and full of challenges. Our own team has seen its fair share of challenges and heartbreaks here.

But now, in just a few weeks, our team will get to enjoy another unique opportunity. We’ll watch a new amphibious Kodiak arrive, providing an opportunity for a greater range of service. We’re already talking about the pieces we’ll need to get operations with it going. The “slip” in our nice floating hangar needs to be widened. The fuel system at the hangar must be changed.

Cessna 185 floatplane MAF charity flights Kalimantan Indonesia

Photo by Rebecca Hopkins.

We’ll also use many “parts” that came from the legacy of the Cessna 185s. For instance, we look forward to continuing to partner with Indonesians who care about their community. We want to walk with care and respect with the vulnerable around us. We plan to continue to use excellence, precision and integrity to provide safe operations for our users.

And we aim to keep on caring for each other—our teammates—through our own personal struggles even before the impact, perspective and purpose are lined up, shiny and complete.

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