Friday, February 3, 2012

Electron Flow

In a couple weeks I will pass the 6 month mark of time spent in Bolivia. The process for getting a pilot license has been slow going, although the horse is smelling the barn and I expect to have a piece of plastic in hand withing the next week!

To get around the pilot license issue, I have flown with another pilot, Miguel. He used to be in the Bolivian Air Force and now flies for a living as an air taxi pilot. A few days ago he accompanied me on a flight to bring a single missionary lady out to her village where she works. On the way out, Miguel and I both noticed that the airplane batterywas no longer charging.

We quickly reduced the electrical loads and tried a few trouble shooting checks to no avail.
Even with a dead battery, the engine will continue to run because the ignition system self generates a spark. Not being able to get the flaps down would be a problem though as they reduce the landing distance and speed that is flown on approach. Thankfully it all worked out just fine and once one the ground we found the culprit. A broken ring terminal that connects to the alternator (the thing that generates electricity). Not having any ring terminals on hand, and being in the middle of the jungle meant it was time to improvise. Cutting back the insulation on the wire, we looped it around the terminal and tightened down the nut on top of the bare wire. We pronounced it good to go and on the flight home it performed flawlessly.

On the way home Miguel and I were talking and he mentioned that we were pretty "lucky" to have fixed the problem. I asked him if he believed in "luck" and that started a conversation about spiritual things where I was able to witness to him. Please pray for Miguel, that the seeds planted would take hold. It's called providence after all, not luck.

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