A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to fly along with David in the MAF Caravan. This was the first time I have flown in the Caravan, and what a different experience it was from flying in a 206. It was like trading out a Go-Kart for an SUV. The Caravan was smooth and had all sorts of cool instruments on its dash board (or whatever the pilots call it!).
It was a stormy day when we headed out, but armed with weather radar we were able to dodge the dangerous areas. David was actually a bit gleeful to have some weather to work so he could make use of the radar and the IFR guidelines the guys use for flying through the mountainous areas of Borneo.
We did eight take-offs and landings in four different villages. I enjoyed watching David interact with passengers and airstrip agents. This older couple below were so cute in their funky t-shirts and solemn expressions.
The man below was quite a character. He had a hat on that said "Indonesian veteran" on it and told us he fought in the border wars with Malaysia (back in the 40s or 50s maybe?). He was at the airport to say goodbye to his younger brother, who was going back to his village to die since the local hospital couldn't do anything to help him.
It was touching to watch the two brothers saying goodbye, knowing that this could very well be the last time they see each other in this life. Then later when we landed at the sick man's village, it was heart-rending to see the somber crowd gathered to welcome him home.
Contrasting that scene was this man on the other side of the plane who was downright giddy receiving one of our "passengers" - a pig in a poke!
The weather continued to be an issue through the afternoon but we were able to make it to all our scheduled stops. Rice harvest had started in several of the villages and from the air we could see men and women wearing conical hats beating out rice stalks on woven mats in the rice paddies. One of our passengers was a pastor who was returning to his village after helping his wife start the harvest in the village where they used to live. He was leaving her behind to finish the harvest, and David and I had to laugh about that because this pastor is a very small thin man (think Jack Sprat) and his wife is a beefy lady who could easily beat him in a wrestling smackdown. She was definitely the better choice for finishing out a physically-demanding rice harvest.
At the end of the day I couldn't believe how tired I was - and all I did was sit in the co-pilot's seat and look out the window. Every time I fly with David I have a renewed appreciation for what he does and why he's so tired at the end of a flying day.
Another happy MAF passenger