I wasn’t expecting to be the only American in class today. Having lived overseas before, I’m used to it. However, it wasn’t something I expected here in Spokane.
Sure enough, my classmates for this week are a Canadian missionary pilot, and a Dutch missionary pilot/mechanic. And I am the rusty American.
Especially toward the end of last week, I was increasingly losing my ability to understand the PT6A turbine engine, even with Ken’s oddball illustrations. Granted, the level of detail in last week’s PT6A Comprehensive Overview Course far exceeds what most pilots are expected to understand. Although I have my Airframe & Powerplant Mechanic certificate in my pocket, I’ve never exactly been a gifted aircraft technician. In partial jest, I’ve sometimes explained that my decision to NOT fix or maintain aircraft has saved countless lives. Flying was always my passion, and something I did with confidence back when I was an active pilot, unlike my struggle to comprehend maintenance training.
Being the only American in class today didn’t worry me. Being the only one lost/confused again did. I nervously sipped coffee as we began Quest KODIAK pilot familiarization this morning. Would I again be working so hard to follow along and understand?
Or would I find my old passion and abilities again learning to fly the Quest KODIAK. I’ll explain more about the aircraft in a future blog, but here are a few things to know:
- As Glenn explained, missionary aviation is often the only opportunity for connection to remote areas. That means missionary airstrips are often short, seldom paved, rarely level, and sometimes surrounded by aircraft-killing terrain like mountains. It takes a niche airplane to operate here, but missionary work is exactly what the KODIAK is designed for.
- The KODIAK isn’t really a complicated machine for experienced pilots, but it is a niche airplane. Therefore, type-specific training is critical for EVERYONE wishing to actually use the KODIAK to its potential.
- I’m not an experienced pilot, so the KODIAK is a complicated airplane to me. And it has a turbine engine. I’m way out of my league, especially considering my +10-year absence from aviation.
At some point this morning, as Rod began KODIAK groundschool, I found something I’d laid aside long ago – my passion for flying. It was as if my mind had finally escaped the infernal, high-pressure, noisy confinement of dwelling on the PT6A’s operational wizardry. It may have been the SPACE in my brain to imagine the entire airplane rather than the minutia of a single complex component.
However, I think it was more.
We were still in a classroom, but even looking at pictures of the sky seemed open and freeing.
And everything started coming back to me. I’m geeking out on airplane stuff again, and I’m able to keep up, just like old times in college. Not am I applying critical parts of last week’s PT6A engine course, but also chucks of aviation knowledge long forgotten. How a Garmin GNS430 avionic system works, which is (in many ways) an older version of the KODIAK’s G1000 system. What different airspeed limits and ranges mean. How electric flap systems work, and when to use them.
I’m really enjoying putting everything together.
This is exactly why Spokane Turbine Center exists. We are here to help missionaries apply their prior aviation knowledge so that they can effectively operate a specific aircraft to its full potential. With good training, they can change the world by connecting remote people groups to what they need.
I am so thankful I didn’t fall behind today. Granted, I’ll probably freeze up when it comes time to jump in the simulator and actually apply everything I’m learning, but for now, I’m excited to be an outsider, the only American in class tomorrow. I might even take my international classmates out to a greasy hamburger lunch just to help them enjoy Spokane.
Spokane Turbine Center changes lives. My name is Jon, and I’m passionate about explaining how we equip missionaries to reach isolated people groups using aviation. As a rusty pilot/mechanic, I’m taking our professional missionary aviation training courses to help tell our story.