GCA U206 to be Used by Missionary Aviator’s in Alaska

You’ve heard the saying: “If you want to make God laugh,  just tell him what your plans are.”  That about sums up our experience.

OlsonsGood news! GCA Supporting a Missionary Pilot in Alaska: GCA is proud to be supporting the Brad and Julie Olson family. Brad is a pilot and pastor of a small rural church.  Rob and Brad became acquainted in 2007 when Brad was working in Michigan as an aircraft mechanic.  GCA recently donated our U206C, N206VT to the Olson’s Non-profit for use in the area around Golovan, Alaska.

Looking Ahead and Looking Back

Dedicating Our Time:
After ten years of dividing their time between field work and support raising, Robert and Jennifer Rice will move into more of a dedicated support and oversight role with GCA based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  We have begun recruiting and hope to add another missionary pilot and family to the GCA team with a target of mid-2012.  Our plan is to support them in a project that will help provide emergency medical transport, transport Bible Translators and missionaries working hard to spread the Good News in Peru.  Donations to GCA will be directed mainly to the efforts of that new addition.

Guatemala Base Closing:
The drug cartel war along the Guatemala/Mexico border forced GCA to move its efforts away from Guatemala and towards other needy areas, such as Peru.  GCA is working with other missionary aviation organizations in an effort to serve in the Amazon Basin.

Student Sponsorship:
The number of students being sponsored via the GCA student sponsorship program, administered by Jennifer Rice, is currently at twenty-two.  This includes two students in a college prep school run by missionaries in a mountain village, called “diversicado”.  Jennifer is managing the program via e-mail and phone calls with help from the Mayalan school Director and a Missionary family that provides oversight.

GCA Mission Plane has New Purpose:
GCA is partnering with a missionary aviation training organization in Michigan that plans to use the Cessna U206 to provide advanced pilots training to serve around the world.

We Need Your Continued Support:
Please Donate Online at: http://www.GreatCommissionAir.org/donate.php

A retrospective of our service over the last 10 years with your support:

  • Spent 5 of the last 10 years, living in small villages without running water, electricity.
  • Done over 1,000 medevac flights from short, rough airstrips – saving many lives.
  • Delivered nearly 90,000 lbs of food to Haiti in the weeks and months following the earthquake.
  • Operated 4 aircraft in six countries (at one time or another).
  • Been Instrumental in developing two medical aviation operations (in Guyana and Guatemala).
  • Created a student sponsorship program that now supports 22 students in Mayalan, Guatemala.
  • Carried nearly every drop of thousands of gallons of fuel, by hand, from drums to the plane.
  • Performed most of the accounting and administration, oversight, maintenance and fundraising.
  • Distributed Audio Bibles in the Mayan languages to village churches.
  • Transported dozens of medical teams and volunteer teams.
  • Trained pilots to fly in Guatemala, one of whom is still flying in Tanzania.
  • Hosted missionaries and medical volunteers in our home.
  • Raised two children, home-schooled, most of their lives in the remote village of Mayalan.
  • Spent years carrying drinking water from a small seasonal creek up a large hill to our home.
  • Survived countless bouts of parasite and skin infections.
  • Mowed entire airstrips by hand with a push mower (when it was necessary).
  • Used 40 year-old aircraft to provide humanitarian and missions support.
  • Survived one horrific airplane crash with two medevac patients on board (with no injuries).
  • Survived dozens of “close calls” on airstrips with a multitude of obstructions and animals.
  • Survived a death threat from one of the most violent drug cartels on earth.
  • Carried many patients with my own hands to the aircraft.
  • Carried the bodies of patients who did not make it to their destination.
  • Mourned with the families of those that have died and rejoiced with those that survived.
  • Neglected the financial security of our family, so we could help others.
  • Followed God’s calling in our lives – through it all

Tell me, is this a worthwhile ministry?
If you agree, support it online at: http://www.GreatCommissionAir.org/donate.php

Badges, we don’t need no stinking badges!

I was just thinking tonight how much fun it would be to train new missionary pilots. I have trained a couple, but never to the extent that I am thinking about tonight.

Give me one or two bright young pilots with about 500 hours, commercial rating, instrument rating and some time on his hands and then hand him over to me for about 8 weeks :)

The FAA and I are great believers in scenario-based training.  Here are a few scenarios I have personal experience with that I could simulate (with a little help) for our new recruits:

  • Deadly, no go-around airstrips that offer no options on short final.
  • Dying patients in the back screaming at the top of their lungs, bleeding on floor and trying  to force open the cargo door.
  • Cruddy weather and tight mountain VFR flying conditions with limited fuel – at max weight.
  • Horses, pigs, sheep, dogs and kids – and old ladies – on runways.
  • Stakes planted on runways (to hold the horses)
  • Big Rocks placed on air strips (used as soccer goals.)
  • Cables strung across airstrips (intended to keep drug smugglers out.)
  • Drug smugglers, all shot up needing med-evac flights.
  • 40 or 50 Spanish speaking soldiers of uncertain origin pointing machine guns at him on the airstrip.
  • 2-3 med-evacs, from different airstrips, on the same flight, in one day.
  • Really bad weather complicated by dense smoke and low hanging cumulo-granite clouds.
  • Bad sleep aggravated by roosters, dogs, buses with loud horns and salsa induced nightmares.
  • Chronic underfunding requiring you to support your family on beans, rice and tortillas – without a retirement plan.
  • Semi-regular irregularity including semi-chronic diarrhea and other intestinal adventures.
  • No toilets.  No running water. No newspaper. No mail. No Police. No rules.  No hanger. No mechanic. No doctor. No dentist. No Gas. No English. No carpeting.
  • Bugs the size of your hands.   Mosquitoes that kill.  Caterpillars that sting like hornets, scorpions that fall from the ceiling.
  • Friends of your own kids dying of snake bites because their families are afraid of going to the big city and can’t speak or read Spanish.

I am ready to being my class now.  Any takers?

How can we simulate all of this in Michigan? Sounds like fun to me.


GCA Suspends Aviation Operations in Guatemala

It is with great sadness that I must report that our operation in the Ixcan region of Guatemala has been suspended.  The increased violent conflicts between competing drug cartels and their respective para-military enforcement soldiers has grown more active and serious over the last few months.  Recently, a large group of civilians were massacred in the Peten and that department has been put in a state of siege.  The department of Alta Verapaz was also in a “state of siege” and several aircraft were confiscated and pilots arrested.  It has gotten to the point where it has become dangerous to work in the area of northern Guatemala with an aircraft.  More details about these events will be made available on a case-by-case basis to those who ask.

With deep regret, we have concluded that the risks of working in the area are too great for us to continue flight operations there.

Jennifer will continue to manage the Child Student Sponsorship program via phone and Internet.

Our family (and the aircraft) have now returned to the U.S. where we will spend some time recuperating and developing a new PLAN OF ACTION as to where and how we will use the Cessna U206.

The missionary community as a whole has been extremely responsive and made us feel welcome and covered in prayer.  Compelling needs exist throughout the world and several organizations have already contacted us to ask if we can help address those needs.

Please pray with us for direction.  It is our sincere desire to insure that the resources you and other donors have trusted us with  will be used for God’s glory, the support of Christian missions and for humanitarian relief.  As soon as potential mission fields are identified, we will inform you by email newsletter.

Your support is more important now than ever as we prepare to move our base to a new location.

If you or your mission board are aware of locations where GCA could possibly serve, please do contact us by phone (734) 846-4092 or by e-mail:  Robert.Rice@GreatCommissionAir.org