Flying Pigs, Crocs & Monkeys


Last fall, I took a trip to Ecuador to learn more about what Mission Aviation Fellowship is doing in the Amazon rain forest. Making 20 minute flights between villages seemed like no big deal – until you consider that those same 20 minutes equal up to a week or more of traveling by foot through dense vegetation and over treacherous terrain.

It was amazing experience and I quickly developed an affinity for missionary flying and what the challenging conditions these pilots fly in each day. What I also learned is that they transport unique cargo between these villages.

I recently solicited tips unique to missionary flying from MAF pilots – and what I got were a list of hilarious pointers for all aspiring bush pilots. (You can read the entire blog and all 10 tips here.)

Tip: Make sure your pig really is “hog-tied.”
One time a pig got loose in flight, kicking off the cargo pod door and making a dramatic exit at 2,000 feet. The owner wanted compensation for the pig, but we held him responsible for the missing pod door. We called it even. – Brian Shepson

Tip: Don’t let the owner carry his large monkey on his lap, even if he insists.
 Against my better judgment, the owner of a monkey insisted on letting it sit in his lap during the flight. On start-up the monkey began screeching horribly. Startled by the engine noise, the monkey began hugging his owner aggressively. When I looked toward the backseat, the owner gave the thumbs up that all was OK to continue. During the full-power takeoff roll, much more monkey commotion was heard accompanied by a horrific smell. After the trees were cleared, a glance back revealed that the monkey had panicked, scrambled atop his master’s head and released his bowels. Mercifully, the flight was a short one. – Brian Shepson

Tip: Don’t load live crocodiles (with big sharp teeth) in front of the tow bar.
We occasionally carry live crocodiles (destined for the stew pot) in our pods beneath the aircraft. After making one such flight, I realized (too late) upon opening the pod that the croc was standing in front of the tow bar, the device used to help move the aircraft after landing. Since I don’t exactly trust the vines croc handlers use to bind the crocs’ jaws, I took a pass on getting the tow bar out until everything was unloaded! – David Francis

If you enjoyed these, check out the remaining seven tips at MAF’s blog site and learn more about this amazing mission agency.

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