Friday, December 28, 2007

Birthday Party

I had my first Peruvian birthday party celebration last night. It was held at my host home with an attendance of around 25 people. Everyone was either from the language school, relatives of my host family, or from the local church that I attend here in Arequipa.

We started at 7:30pm but the majority of people did not come until 8:30 with some showing up as late as 10pm. My host mother made me a birthday cake with mango filling inside, it was delicious. The traditon, at least in my house, is that the birthday boy has to take a bite of the cake while his "friends" help him...

My host home father grilled hamburgers and we drank "Inca Cola" the popular soft drink here that is kind of like Mountain Dew. In addition to all the food, we even had some time to dance to Latin music. Normally I have two left feet but with a little coaching I saw doing alright, I even got to dance with my "Abuelita" (grandmother) the mother of my host mom.

I received a few gifts including a CD with music by Mana (a group from Latin America) and a soccer jersey of my favorite team from the English Permier league: Liverpool.

I finally was able to get to bed around 12pm and drifted off to sleep very content and happy. Even though I am thousands of miles away from my family and friends in the USA, I am so very thankful that the Lord had provided me with a wonderful host family and many new friends in Peru.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

White Water Rafting

Just a half hour drive up towards the mountains, there is an excellent place to go white water rafting. A group of us from language school shelled out $25 a person for this 2 hour trip. There were a number of class 3 rapids and even a class 4.

We had two rafts, and each was commanded by a Peruvian guide. They were calling out commands in Spanish and some times during the heat of battle a number or us would get confused and start paddling backwards in stead of forwards or vise versa. However, despite our best attempts to go for a swim nobody (except myself) fell out of the raft. Since the river is fed from mountains up in the Andies, the water was VERY cold.

A new couple that has recently begun attending language school is Tim and Hannah. They are also with South America Mission and will be working north of Lima, Peru in a town called Puerto Supe. We all had a great time and had the chance to bond together even more as friends.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


The word "Oma" is Dutch for grandmother.

Today, on Tuesday the 18th, I received a call from my parents informing me that my Oma had passed away this afternoon. She was 94 years old and even a week before her death she was in good health and excellent spirits. Thankfully my aunt and uncle, along with my cousins were at her side in the hospital when she went to be with the Lord.

I greatly respect my Oma because she was a Godly woman. Whenever I would visit her, she would be sure to tell me that every day she prayed for me. It was her dream one day to be a missionary, however, the Lord called her to raise three sons and one daughter. She also was an anchor for my father and his siblings when her husband walked out on the family never to return. My Oma was born in the Netherlands and lived through World War II. She hid Jews during the war and when the Naiz's came asking if she was hiding Jews in the house, she did not lie and told them "Yes", the Nazi's laughed at her and moved on! One of my greatest memories is taking her flying a few years ago. What an honor and pleasure it was for me!

While I am sad that I will not be able to attend the funeral, I am happy to know she knew Jesus Christ as her personal savor and friend. There is not doubt she is in a better place, a place where we too who are Christians look forward to being with expectation, because our true home is there.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A taste of Arequipa

The big meal of the day for me is lunch. As is typical in most Peruvian households, we eat around 2:30 in the afternoon. At first it was very hard to change my eating schedule as my stomach put up quite a fuss for a week or so. However, now I have grown accustomed to it. Eating late allows me to go to my Spanish classes and also to the gym before lunch! I took a few pictures of my meals this week. The first meal was rice with lentils and hot sauce on top, then a salad with lettuce, chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocado. With a little salt, it is quite tasty.

The second dish is a little more traditional from the mountains of Peru. Again there is rice with hot sauce, then a fried egg, some steak, corn and cheese. The corn and cheese are eaten together and the savor is quite excellent. Note how big the kernels are on the corn, not quite the same as my grandpa's sweet corn back in Holland, Michigan.

Finally, one of my all time favorites, mango. Growing up in Suriname we had a mango tree in our yard. We had the most excellent mangos that had predominantly green skin until they they were ripe, then they turned slightly light green. The mangos here are all yellow with red so I was skeptical at first because in Suriname that type had "strings" on the inside that always got stuck in between your teeth when you ate them.

I way happy to find out that the mangos here are very delicious and do not have strings! My supper this past week has consisted of cut up mango with an occasional banana or apple throw in for good measure.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

No really... I'm a pilot.

While sitting in language school this week, conjugating endless verbs and learning yet another way to say something in the past tense, I had a stunning realization:

"Eventually, I'm going to get out of here and start flying"

Learning Spanish has been difficult and even after almost 5 months of study, I still find myself very much at a loss for words... literally. I have been a conjugating machine instead of a pilot since moving to Peru. Did you know that there are 6 ways to say something in the past tense. 6 DIFFERENT WAYS! I know there are 6 cylinders on my airplane engine...

But while sitting in class, I remembered that by March I should be living out in Pucallpa and beginning the ministry that I have been working towards for the last 8 years. These are some pictures that have found homes as background wallpaper on my computer. It is a good reminder of what skills I do poses... unlike speaking good Spanish.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Sport Life

I made it a goal once I got back to Peru, that I wanted to get more physical activity. Since sitting in school and riding the bus was not doing enough, I started going to the Sport Life gym that is just a few minutes away on bicycle. It is located in a fairly new building and is owned by one of the professional tennis players from Peru. There is a first floor gift shop, the second floor is a hair saloon, the third floor has weight lifting equipment, the four floor is cardio, and the firth floor s used for lessons like dance and "spinning".

You almost forget that you are in Peru when you go there because the weight machines all have instructions printed in english and each floor has a "personal trainer" that walks around keeping track of people during their work out. My first day there, they took a bunch of measurements, asked me what my training goals were, and set me up with a routine and schedule.

So I am enjoying the gym a few days a week after my language classes. It is also an opportunity to practice spanish with my "personal trainer". On Thursday I meet a guy named Carlos, we started talking and he was very open with me. He is not a Christian but I can tell that he is searching for something in his life. Pray that I would be able to share with him the Good News of Jesus Christ and also be a good testimony.
Oh yes, just in case you were worried about me on the 4th floor of this building, according to the signs, I am in an earthquake secure building.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving in Peru

I returned to Peru this past week after spending a little over 2 months in the USA. The first week I was back happened to be the week of Thanksgiving. So on Thursday evening after my Spanish classes, a big group of us from language school got together for the evening. It was an international affair as we had people from Peru, the USA, England, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland!
The missionaries who hosted the event are from Tennessee and gave a wonderful display of southern hospitality. There was no shortage of food to be sure. We were also able to watch some American Football via the internet. I spent a little time trying to explain the game to some of the Germans who were there but I don't think got very far.

The evening was rounded out by singing a few songs together and sharing what we were thankful for. As a superb sunset slowly faded, we shuffled back to our respective homes, full and thankful for our newfound fiends in Peru.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bonus flight videos

Here are a few more flying videos from Orientation at JAARS. I was able to video some Instructor Pilot checkouts at new airstrips. One of these is in special memory of "Wonderboy" Nathan B. with a camera on the runway video.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Technical Orientation finished

I completed my Technical Orientation at JAARS on November 5th and returned to Michigan for a short 12 day period to see some family and friends. I have included a picture of my Mountain week group that I spent 1 week with in the mountains of North Carolina doing some flight training. My orientation ended well and I was given the blessing to continue on towards Peru.

While rare, there have been people that reached orientation and could not put it together or keep up with the fast pace. I was thankful to finish and do well but it still amazes me that I could have been that far down the road and still not be allowed to do what I had trained for this whole time!
As a pilot, there is always the chance that a small accident could take away your medical/pilot certificates very quickly. It reminds me of our position as Christians on this earth, we at any moment could have an accident and be up in Heaven before we know it. Good thing all of this is in God's control and sovereignty!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More Cessna 206 Technical talk.

As promised two posts ago, here is some additional technical information that I have been learning here at JAARS during my technical orientation. Let me first step back and say that I have appreciated the professional attitude and approach that JAARS takes in their orientation process. The old image of a dashing bush pilot who flies over gr0ss weight in bad weather on a wing and a prayer is far from the professional pilot that missionary aviation mandates today.

When I first started learning about performance in terms of flying, it was always in terms of looking at the numbers published in the Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) for a particular aircraft. Since much of mission flying is done from "non-standard" airstrips that are not 3000 feet long, we have developed specific takeoff and landing calculations for the aircraft we fly. Since the takeoff and landing distance along with climb out performance will change with weight, airstrip slope, temperature, altitude, and wind conditions, all this needs to be take into account to maintain safety.

Aside from takeoff and landing distance calculations, climb and approach angles also need to be factored in. It would not do any good to get off the runway but not be able to climb over the trees at the end of the clearing. Thankfully all these numbers and factors have been tested so that pilots can calculate all the needed data before taking off or landing. Lets look at a sample problem.
Starting with our hard facts I know that the C-206 in a no
wind condition will fly a 5 degree approach angle. Thus from my touch down position there can not be any trees or obstructions that stick up more than 5 degrees from my touchdown point.
Second, I know that below 3000' density altitude my 206 will climb out at a 4 degree angle. However we factor in a 2 degree margin for safety. Thus from the point of rotation on takeoff I need to have a clear climb out path above 2 degrees. All of these angles can be measures with a tool called an inclinometer which is actually a foresty tool that works well for our needs. See the picture below.

Now that we have hard numbers on our approach and climbs angles, lets look at calculating takeoff and landing distance. Starting with a given weight, lets say 3400 lbs. the takeoff distance is 650 feet. I now have to correct that distance for runways conditions, density altitude, and wind. Then lets say the runway has short grass on it that is wet, I take the 650 feet and multiply by a modifier. For short grass that is wet, this happens to be an increase of 15% in takeoff roll. I multiply 650 by 1.15. The new number is 748 feet. Density altitude is 2000 feet so I adjust for an additional 10% or 1.10 and get 822 feet. The runways is sloped down 1 degree so that will reduce my takeoff roll. The adjustment for 1 degree down slope is 7 percent (0.93) for a total of 765 feet. A 5 knot headwind further decreases ground roll by 5 percent (0.95) giving a total takeoff distance of 727 feet. While I am on the ground at the runway, I can walk down 727 feet and whip out the inclinometer, measure the angle to the obstacle, and if it is less than 2 degrees, I can safely takeoff with my margin.

I hope this gives a little insight into how performance data is calculated, how safety margins are factored in, and how the modern day missionary pilots are going on far more than a wing and a prayer.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Two of a kind?

This past weekend I had the chance to give a few planes rides to some of my friends. A special treat was giving a "first flight" to a special 1 year old passenger. Alex came along with his mother (who I knew from my years in Suriname) and enjoyed the view from 2000 feet on a clear fall day. While Alex still can't talk and more than likely will not remember the flight, his mother told me that she could tell Alex was looking around very intently at everything and even made an attempt to grab the control stick...

The pictures I took made me remember a similar picture that my father took of me when I was about 2 years old. Are we going to have a second pilot on our hands just because of a 15 minute airplane ride? Only time will tell if these children are two of a kind.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Flying Videos!

This is pretty neat! I just found out that Blogger, the host of my blog, has added a new feature. It now allows direct up loads of videos! I am testing it out here and thought what better thing than a couple aviation videos. These videos are from my training here at the JAARS center. We have begun flying into some local grass strips in preparation for what I will see in Peru.
This particular strip called Edgemoore is about 10 minutes away and is 1650 long and 70 feet wide. In my next post I will go into greater detail about climb angles, slope, and calculating takeoff and landing performance, but here just note on the landing video how there is an audible "whistling" sound. These are the air vents and conveniently enough they start "coming on" at 58kts and change pitch all the way down to 48 kts. Our typical STOL (Short TakeOff and Landing) approach speed is 52-55 kts with a 350-450 feet per minute descent.
Also note the LARGE trees just off the left wingtip. This is why centerline control is very important. Those trees are level with out wings when we pass them and there is no more than 5 feet of clearance! Yup I am having fun!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Flight traning begins!

Today was my first day of flight training here at JAARS. After finishing up a very thorough maintenance refresher class on the Cessna 206 (pronounced; two oh six), it was off to ground school and then today, two flight lessons. The first few flights were just for getting used to the airplane and setting up the various configurations that we will be using through the rest of training here.

After being in Peru for 4 months, I was curious to see how I would do back in the cockpit. Two weeks ago I went to a local airport and got checked out for rental in an American Champion Explorer (7GCBC). That went well and I had a great weekend as I flew up to Asheville, NC to see one of my former college roommates. There is just something about tandem seating, great visibility on all sides and up through the the Plexiglases ceiling, control stick, 180 HP engine and little wheel in the right place. Needless to say, I had a great time. There are no airplanes to rent in Peru so I have to take advantage of these chances while I can!

Anyways, my flights in the C-206 went well. I was a little behind the airplane and it was a challenge to remember all of the "V speeds" for different configurations. "V" stands for velocity, for example; Vr is the speed for rotation (48 kts) Vy is climb speed (61 kts) and we have different speeds and flap setting for different points in the traffic pattern.

The 206 is a great airplane and while it may have the appearance of a truck, the handling is very stable. Our first periods will be at 3200 lbs and moving up to 3600 lbs (max gross weight) for the rest of the training. In Peru our airplanes have wingtip fuel tanks which add another 3 feet to the total wingspan and give us another 200 lbs of gross weight for a total of 3800 lbs.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Wrist update

Two weeks ago I had my cast removed. After visiting the doctor one last time in Peru and looking at new x-rays ($8) I was told that the bones healed correctly. I still had some pain in certain movements but it has slowly decreased over the past 2 weeks.

The doctor told me to wear a wrist race and also to do exercises. This has helped and I wold say that right now I am at 90%. Please continue to pray for complete healing as I start flying in 2 weeks and need to be healthy for that training here at JAARS.

Back in the USA

I may be fairly young still but I do remember hearing a song on the radio with a line going something like this: Back in the USSR, you don't know how lucky you are.
I arrived back in the USA about 2 weeks ago and have settled in at the JAARS center where I am doing my Technical Orientation. Right now I am attending maintenance classes from 8-5 during the day. The classes are specific to the Cessna 206 airplane that we fly in Peru.

Once the maintenance portion is finished in 2 more weeks, I will begin the flight portion of the orientation. Again this will be with Cessna 206 airplanes just like we have in Peru. For those of you that are interested, these are C-206 G models, that have been modified to with heavy duty landing gear, Flint aero tip tanks, GAMI injectors, Continental IO-550 (300 hp) engine, and other structural beef ups including windshield V-brace, and Horton STOL kits. If some of that is Greek to you, then know that basically all these things are aftermarket modifications to make the plane, stronger, faster, and able to take the abuse that is associated with jungle flying.

I am enjoying myself though and prefer the technical classes instead of my Spanish classes for a change. So, even though I am not in the USSR, I still feel excited to be around airplanes again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


For my "last supper" in Arequipa, my host family made my favorite Arequipan dish. We had Rocoto Relleno, which is stuffed red (hot) peppers. They are filled with hard boiled eggs, meat, cheese, and some other spices. Served with potatoes, they are are a very savory and eye watering dish. I will miss my host home as I will be in the USA for a little over 2 months completing an Aviation Technical Orientation course at Waxhaw, NC. But after my time is finished I will be returning to Arequipa, Peru and completing the rest of my Spanish language school.

Sunday, September 2, 2007


This weekend I was on my way to the bus stop when I saw a street vendor selling something that caught my eye. At first I was not sure what it was but upon closer inspection, I could hardly believe my eyes. There in from of me were strawberries! I quickly purchased one kilo, about 2 pounds, for 6 Soles, or $2.

Arriving home 1/2 an hour later, I washed the strawberries and broke out the blender. With some strawberries, vanilla ice cream, and a little milk, I had myself a real treat. A genuine strawberry milkshake. I was quite pleased even though it was not quite on par with the Village Dipper in Drenthe, MI.

Even 3000 miles away, I had a taste of home. What a wonderful and tasty blessing from the Lord.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Sometimes you see all kinds of animals here in Peru. Here is a sample of animals that I have seen. Some are pets, some are for working, and some are... for napping?

I hear these actually do not made good pets because of the noise, constant climbing on furniture, and ability to eat anything within reach... just like the thing in the red vest.

Don't have to worry about them running away quickly or chasing cars.

Cement truck for Portland cement! The Yura cement factory is just outside the city.

Any place or time is right for a siesta.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Duck tape

This week I was out hunting for some duck tape. My cast had been digging into my skin a bit in a few areas and I wanted to put the "handy mans secret weapon" on there to stop the rubbing. Now in the USA this would be a 5 minute trip down the road to Menards where I would be inundated with 3 different brands, 4 sizes, 5 different colors of duck tape. But in Peru, things are different...

On Tuesday I spent 1 hour going to 6 different hole-in-the-wall "hardware stores" trying to locate the illusive tape. (there is not such thing as mega stores) I finally found a 50 yard roll for $10. Not wanting to pay that much for something that I needed so little of, I made a mental note and moved on.

On Wednesday I started out on the north end of town by the language school and started working my way south on foot. For almost 2 hours I stopped in 9 different stores and walked about 3 miles until I finally found a store that had duck tape. Amazingly enough it was in a small roll of 10 yards and was only $3.
I made the appropriate modifications and the world is a decent place again, at least until I need to find something else down here...

Thursday, August 16, 2007


As many of you know, Peru experienced a 7.6 earthquake yesterday evening. The center was off shore in the Pacific ocean near the town of Ica, Peru. Arequipa, where I am studying Spanish, is about 500 miles away. We experienced a gentle swaying of the houses and many people who were outside did not feel anything. Needless to say the affects here were minimal.

From what I have heard, there are close to 400 people who have died in the Ica/Nazca area of Peru. Incredibly I was in Ica just 2 weeks ago for vacation. See the post entitled SAND DUNES.

Thank you again for your concerns and prayers.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Broken Wrist

Well, this past Saturday I was playing soccer with the other students from the language school and I managed to break my left wrist. The only person I can blame is myself because all I did was step on the ball while I was dribbling. I went right down to the concrete and landed on my wrist. It did not hurt very much so I finished the rest of the game... but on Sunday afternoon I decided that it would be wise to get it checked out since it hurt in certian positions. It was hard to write as well as since I am left handed. Sure enough the doctors said I had a fracture of my ulna bone.The ulna is the forearm bone on the pinky finger side, the radius bone is on the thumb side.

It is hard to see on the X-ray but there is a small crack across the top of the ulna, I am pointing to it in the picture. Thankfully it is not a bad break so it did not have to be set... this can be very painfull as I have experienced that before. I only need a cast for 3 weeks and should be close to 100% after that!

One thing that was amazing was the cost for everything. First off, why don't you guess at what this similar treatment would cost in the USA... Here is break down, converted into dollars, for what I paid here in Peru.

Hospital entry fee: $6

X-rays: $8

Consultation with specialist doctor: $53

Acrylic Cast: $33 (I could have opted for the $7 plaster cast)

Five day supply of Voltaren: $5 (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug)

Total: $105

For some things, it's GOOD to be in Peru! Please pray with me for good healing as in 4 weeks I will be returning to the USA for a two month flight orientation and I need me left hand to fly with. I am also left handed so I will have to learn to do some things differently for 3 weeks. Thanks for praying.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Family Fun and then some.

This past weekend my whole household here in Arequipa went on a short outing together. Currently there are two other students living in the house besides myself. Stephen is from Denmark and Kristina is from Germany. My host parents are Pedro and Cecilia. Juan Carlos is actually one of my Spanish tutors and Ana is in college. I have appreciated getting to know all of them more and more and they all continue to teach me more about Peruvian culture and food.

On our outing, we saw some ancient petroglifs. I am not sure how old they are but I do know they are not tourist attractions as we had to climb through several farmers fields to reach them.

After our jaunt in the country, it was off to a local restaurant for lunch. In the parking lot was a clothsline with Qui, or guinee pig, hanging out to dry. While not particularly appetizing for myself, this sight did not seem to bother the local Peruvians one bit. Needless to say, I opted for some stuffed peppers with beef.