After a full day of flying, MAF Pilot Brian Marx had to get medicine to a village—without landing!
Brian Marx is an MAF pilot in Papua, Indonesia. Like most MAF pilots, many of his days are filled with flights that range from taking missionaries into remote jungles, to transporting critically-injured patients, to flying supplies and personnel into places with little access. He shares one of his “average” days here:
“My first flight was to the village of Pogapa. This mountain village is the ministry base for John. Today my task was to bring Adelce from Nabire; she is the director of the school which is part of John’s ministry. Thankfully when I arrived over the airstrip, the fog had not yet risen out of the valley. I landed: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
My second flight was to the town of Bilogai up at 7,000 feet above sea level. Missionary Mary lives down the hill from Bilogai in the village of Hitadipa, where she and a teammate work among the Moni tribe; training evangelists, translating Christian Bible study materials, and teaching basic healthcare. The weather was clear and the wind was picking up but still manageable. I landed. The previous day I helped fix Mary’s mower used to mow the airstrip. Now I helped load the mower onto the backseat of an ojek—a motorcycle taxi. Mary jumped on a second ojek and zoomed off on an epic one-hour motocross run down the mountain. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
The third flight of the day was a joyous first for me; today I would get to do a drop! The Bible translator in Dirouw texted from a satellite phone. He had a pounding ear infection and needed antibiotic drops ASAP. MAF’s KODIAK was not available and the Caravan is too big to land on the tiny Dirouw airstrip. So I would make a low pass and drop the medicine out the window. A friend in town purchased the meds while I was out flying. Then my teammate Pieter packaged them up along with a few chocolate chip cookies from my wife, Heather.
I flew with a load to a nearby village, then departed with an empty aircraft to do the drop. I circled over Dirouw; the wind was calm and the villagers cleared the area. I set up with proper flap and power settings. I would handle the package with my left hand and fly with my right. I was careful to remove my wedding ring! I set the package in my lap and opened the small window beside me. I approached as if to land but leveled at 70 feet. At midfield I pushed the package into the 100 mph breeze and dropped it. I did not look back; my focus was on the 200 foot trees ahead. I added full power and climbed to a safe altitude. Circling over the field I wagged my wings for the community below. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
We later received a ‘thank you’ message—‘the cookies were a tasty interruption in a diet of smoked wildlife and starchy tubers; the ear swelling went down and the infection cleared in a few days.’ ”