An annual inspection for an airplane, like a car, can either be fairly quick and easy, or it can come with the need for significant investment of time and money. This year, the latter was the case for MAG’s N9719Z, or “One Nine Zulu” as it is commonly called. One Nine Zulu is the plane currently in use in Rus Rus, Honduras. Given its location, the inspection and repairs would normally take place in Rus Rus. But this was no normal annual inspection.
There were several complicating factors that presented challenges. First, the plane had a failed avionics system that could not be repaired on the field. A complete replacement and upgrade would be needed and the technical aspects of this type of upgrade required an avionics shop. Second, the 14 foot long horizontal tail piece needed to be replaced. This piece could not be loaded on the Cessna 206s operated by MAG and shipping would have been costly and lack the assurance of safe transport. Third, timing issues were a factor based on the mix of FAA requirements, Honduran paperwork and the fact that One Nine Zulu is the only mission aircraft available in the area. The decision was made do do the repairs in the U.S. and that the plane would need to be returned within 3 weeks. The clock was ticking.
Even with no money in hand and an estimated cost of around $25,000, plans began to take shape. Missionary Flights International [MFI] in Florida graciously offered space for the men to work. MAG Director of Maintenance Scott Grote would pick up MAG Guatemala Program Director Paul Jones, who would together travel to Rus Rus to fly One Nine Zulu to Florida. Mike Dunkley and Jim Newman from MMS would fly from Coschocton, Ohio to the MFI base in Florida where Brian Lites had coordinated the details of completing the multifaceted project. In God’s perfect timing he provided the needed funds through a generous donor.
Work on the plane commenced August 6th. Grote comments, “At one point I counted 8 MFI mechanics working on various things on our airplane. It was a HUGE blessing to be at MFI with such an amazing facility and such servant-hearted mechanics plowing through the work so quickly.” God’s hand was again visible when Paul Jones and Westley Wiles (MAG’s Honduras Program Director) got into the avionics shop on short notice (because of a hurricane headed towards the area). An additional surprise: the avionics shop was located immediately next door to another ministry, Agape Flights, who provided hanger space and housing for the guys. The morning of September 3rd, they began their journey back to Honduras with the completed plane.
God receives all of the credit for providing all of the needed space, parts, financing and housing for the complex repair. He brought together 4 different organizations and many individuals to get the repairs and annual inspection completed within a limited time frame.