"Es una emergencia"
"Podra responderme por favor?"
It was three simple text messages, but with them there were a lot of questions that we needed answered.
Aviation is an amazing tool that Peru Projects is blessed to be able to use here in the Amazon Basin region of Peru. But with that blessing, there are also inherent risks, especially if you have to do an emergency landing. First, you are flying over large areas of land without hardly any human presence, so if you crash it may take a long time for someone to find you. Secondly, there are very few cleared areas, so you basically have to choose between gliding into trees or crash landing into water. Third, often there are large storms that can billow up unexpectedly which you have to navigate around or through. All of these risks are a part of flying here, but they are all amplified when we perform a night flight.
With those three text messages, the local hospital had started communication with Eben regarding a woman who was in labor. They informed him that the baby had very little time to live unless they were able to perform a C-section in the next few critical hours. Now came the decision on our part. It was past 6:30, and the last few rays of the sun had already disappeared behind the horizon. We also had the added pressure that no other aircraft in the area was able to perform this lifesaving flight. Was the weather good? Was the airplane in good operating condition? Was the lighting good enough at the airports we were flying to? As we evaluated the questions, it was decided that all of the immediate conditions were perfect for performing a night flight. Now, because of the dangers associated with flying at night, we would have to contact the DGAC, Peru's aviation governing body, in order to ask for permission to perform this medical emergency flight.
As we waited for a response from the DGAC, we prepared the aircraft for the flight and contacted friends about coming out to line our runway with headlights from motor vehicles so that we could see for take-off. The night was clear, crisp, and still, perfect for flying. The airplane was ready, fuel had been added, oil checked, and preflight completed. The excitement was building as we mentally and physically prepared for the flight ahead. Then we got it, the okay from the DGAC that we needed for permission to go. With everything sorted out, we taxied down the runway, with our friends sitting in the vehicles illuminating our way with their headlights as we went.
We got to the end of the runway, lined up the aircraft for take-off, pushed the throttle completely forward allowing the engine to roar to life, and were soon gliding through the cool night air on our way to Contamana. The stars were twinkling brightly above us, and we could see the Orion constellation above us to the left. With the smooth purr of the engine in the background we could soon see the glow of the city lights as the kilometers flew by beneath us. The bright lights of the airport guided us safely to the runway, and we taxied up to the ambulance which was waiting for us.
Within a few minutes, we were ready to take off again, with the patient and nurse in the back of the Cessna. We quickly made it to Pucallpa, and she was soon off to deliver her son at the hospital. It was a beautiful night, with a happy ending for all involved.
The aircraft here at Peru Projects complete so many different types of flights. Some are for medical emergencies, allowing us to share the gospel by our concern for humanity and the way in which we care for the people with a Christ like conduct. Others are focused on spreading the gospel by flying pastors, missionaries and Biblical materials to the surrounding communities. Some flights are smooth with no problems, while others have added difficulties and challenges. But when our eyes are focused on Christ, and our hearts are compelled by the effect of the gospel in our lives, we move forward with the mission of taking the gospel to the areas of the globe that are hard to access.