Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Blast From the Past Part 2

     When we posted the last blog re-reporting on our experience at the Mission Aviation Fellowship Technical Evaluation, I thought the next email I wrote was shorter… I was wrong. It was about 3 times the length. So this will be the second of at least two more posts. It has been fun reading what we wrote several years ago, remembering the emotions, the excitement, the anticipation and the NERVES!! For the flight portion especially. Hope you enjoy!

          We have been back in East Tennessee for a week now, trying to get caught up at home, work and on our sleep. Continuing where we left off, we had our psychological evaluation on Monday, May 2. We got to the Docs office around 10:30 in Boise, which was about a twenty-five minute drive from the MAF campus. They had us take a test, the MMPI-2, which stands for Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. It was kind of a goofy test, asking if we wanted to be florists, if we were possessed by demons, or if we liked to tease pets (I had to answer yes on at least one of those, can you guess which?). It was 567 true or false questions and it took about an hour and a half to take. Once we finished, we had a two hour break and drove around for 30 minutes trying to find a suitable place to eat. This baby that Tasha is growing for us sure is picky. We finally found a pizza joint and took our time eating.

 Once we got back to the office, Dr. Bennet took me back first. He asked mainly about how we met, how long we had dated, how long we have been together, how I proposed, and other stuff like that. We really didn't get into the results of the test too much, but he did pick up on my personality really quickly. He diagnosed me as a “nose to the grindstone, gotta work quick, gotta work hard, gotta work now” kinda guy. He also knew how my work ethic coupled with my ADD past could cause problems and just cautioned me to pay attention to what my family was going through with the whole process of all the training, fundraising and travel overseas.

(Editors note: Boy was he not kidding…. Click here to read about a perfect example of this….)

           He then took Tasha back and talked with her for about 35 minutes asking about her past, how she felt about the whole idea of serving the Lord through MAF overseas, etc. The experience was actually much better and nurturing than we were expecting. We had heard some stories from some of the other families that made us a little leery, but we cannot complain.
 Tuesday began the flight portion. Tasha was still nauseous most of the time, and because of a cold, was still coughing and feeling downright icky. The flight instructor and I did the pre-flight on the airplane, hopped in, and took off.  We flew west about 20 miles, well clear of the city and Boise airspace. We did turns, steep turns, slow flight, stalls, turning stalls, followed by some other maneuvers that I had never practiced before. They asked me to slow the airplane down to 80 knots with the wing flaps up. Then, I was to drop in full flaps, keep the airspeed at 80 knots, maintain altitude and heading, and then bring the flaps back up, while keeping everything else the same.This was an exercise to help understand the correlation between drag, lift and power (I think....). Then we went to an airport north west of Nampa to do some touch and goes.

 The first landing was not as good as I expected. Not to mention my landing pattern, a rectangular shape flown around the runway, was very much askew because I am used to flying much faster aircraft and was used to making turns much sooner than required of the Cessna 206. In the Beechcraft Baron, we normally fly the pattern anywhere from 120 to 150 knots, in the 206 however, we were doing it at 55 to 70 knots. Because of the extra airspeed, the Baron has a much more "positive" feel with less input into the controls. The 206 just as a different feel and it took me a while to get used to it. By the end of the first day though, my landings became smoother, I got used to the height of and attitude of the airplane on the ground. I wasn’t feeling too confident though. I thought my maneuvers were sloppy. They gave me some tolerances, + or - 10 knots on the airspeed, + or - 100 feet on the altitude and + or - 10 degrees on the heading. I was within those, but I felt I could have done much better. I also know the caliber of Pilots MAF looks for and didn’t feel like I met their expectations. I was done by 1 or 2 just about every day of the flight week, which gave me more time to go study and spend time with Tasha.
      The second day was more instruction than evaluation. My instructor introduced some mountain flying concepts to me, how to determine if we could safely fly up a narrow valley/canyon, and how to cross a ridge line safely with only 100 feet between the landing gear and the top of the ridge. First we practiced the maneuvers at 5500 feet, away from any terrain. The procedure was to slow the airplane to 80 knots, and 20 degrees of flaps, and complete the landing checklist.

      MAF is all about the use of checklists. This is a GREAT thing, and one of the things that most pilots (myself included) get complacent on. MAF understands it can be a pain, so they make it easy. The printed the checklist on one sheet of paper, so no more searching to find the right page, and also permanently fixed it to the yoke, so its right in front of you. For landing and takeoff, they also made a series of switches, each with a certain task required to be completed before the switch was flipped. When all 5 or 6 switches are flipped, a green light turns on indicating the airplane is configured for either takeoff or landing. Anyway, back to terrain flying.

      When the airplane is setup in the 80 knots and 20 degrees of flaps, a 45 degree bank turn is entered, add a little bit of power and back pressure on the yoke, and the turn radius (or horizontal distance covered on the ground) is radically reduced without loosing any airspeed or altitude, which provides a safe way out in case a canyon turns into a dead end. It sounds easy at altitude and away from terrain, and it is because you can see the horizon quite well and you can understand the relation of the airplane to the horizon. But then we descended down to 3500 feet, and pointed the nose straight at a mountain. We set the airplane up in the terrain configuration and waited.....and waited.... and waited... the mountain kept getting bigger....... and bigger.... and closer......and bigger…… To be continued… 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Blast From the Past Part 1

What a difference a couple of years make. I was cleaning up some old files in the computer and came across a little email I wrote about our Technical Evaluation at MAF, which was the very first step in a long process in becoming a missionary with them. At the time, Tasha was pregnant, and since then miscarried, got pregnant again, and now we have our lovely Adah. We left our jobs,returned to Idaho for Candidacy,sold cars, sold much of our stuff, have been accepted, got our field assignment,began fundraising, finished fundraising, are halfway through language school, and making final preparations to leave for Africa. I thought it would be neat to let you take a look a few years back as we discovered more about MAF. Next week we will post the email about the flight tests. Its a little long, but I hope you enjoy!

April 15, 2011.
We started off Monday with a meeting with the candidate committee at 8:45 AM. The meeting went well and they asked us about how we met, why we felt drawn to missions, what God has done in our lives and our personal testimonies. They were also interested in the events that led up to that day and how we ended up at the MAF campus. They found it fairly apparent that God has been at work. After this meeting, Tasha stayed in the office while I went and started the maintenance evaluation.

This process began with a mechanical aptitude test, a test on FAA regulations and Aircraft Manufacturer data and support (i.e. maintenance manuals, parts manuals, other supplemental info), and one on maintenance scenarios. These tests were completed on Tuesday afternoon. Tasha went back to the office a while on Tuesday. After all of my written tests, I began the hands on testing, working on aircraft ignition systems, engines, and airframe systems. My final test was to construct a box with my initials riveted on the bottom.

I completed the last of the maintenance evaluations on Thursday evening, and today began the flight portion. I met with my pilot evaluation instructor at 9 and began my oral quiz over aerodynamics and regulations. Then I was tested over pre-flight inspection procedures. During this time my maintenance evaluation instructor compiled his report, shared it with the director of training and made his recommendation. I just sat down to meet with him around 3 for the debriefing. On the mechanical aptitude test I was in the 88th percentile, for the other two tests, I made a 92 and 94 overall. He said they rarely get anyone over 90. He recommended me for Maintenance Service with MAF!

Next week we have our psychological/ marital evaluations on Monday with a local Psychologist. We have heard some stories about him so we are a little nervous about this... Tuesday I will fly for 2 hours just working on my feel for the airplane, doing maneuvers and multiple landings. Wednesday I will be introduced to new concepts and procedures involved with flying around mountains and other terrain. This will not so much be an evaluation of my flight skills but of my ability to learn these concepts and be able to apply them. Thursday we will do a cross country flight, not being able to use the GPS (yikes) in an area I am not familiar with and lacking in significant landmarks. During one of these days I will also be in a flight simulator (not your typical Microsoft Flight Sim) so they can evaluate my instrument flight skills.

There are currently 3 other families here for Technical Evaluation. Two families got here the week before we did and will finish today. The other family got here the same time we did. There are also 3 other families here for one of the final steps in the process of getting overseas, orientation and standardization. We are one of two family that DOESNT have a small child. Out of the 7 wives here, only 3 are not pregnant (because 2 of them JUST had their babies). This made us feel especially welcome (Tasha feels very encouraged by all the experienced mothers offering there support on nausea control)

(Editors note: We were later accepted with the three families who were doing there Technical Eval with us, and one of the other families we met, the Freys, we will be joining in Africa.)

The campus here is very nice, as it is only 5 years old. The main office holds the IT, Finance, HR, Chapel, Prayer Chapel, Recruiting and several other departments. There are 3 apartment buildings also owned by MAF (one of which we are staying in) that each have a 2 bedroom suite, a studio, and one bedroom suite. The accommodations here are very excellent. Across from the office is the Hangar and maintenance/flight department offices. There are two separate hangars, one for training airplanes and training equipment, and the other is for airplanes that have either returned from the field and are being prepped for sale, or are on their way to the field being prepped and modified as needed.

Tasha and I find it extremely refreshing to be with a group of people who without exception enjoys who they work for, who they work with, and have a wholly (holy??) positive attitude. To be able to stop any time and find someone to go pray with and be encouraged to do so is something that is rare in a work environment. Come to think of it, this is the only place that I know of that has a Chapel in the main building that is not a "church"building. The idea that a group of people devoting themselves to Jesus and the love for humanity motivated by the love for Christ all coming together from different Christian denominations is very uplifting. We have both been totally blown away by what seems to be true compassion-not just for who they are serving to, but their staff and future staff.  Truly this is a great organization and it is no surprise they are who they are today by the providence of God.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God!" (I John 3:1)

Happy Valentine's Day!
from the Spann Family:
Kevin, Tasha & Adah

Monday, February 11, 2013

Polar Plunge

Our school likes to perform in a "Polar Plunge" every winter. It is something very popular with the Canadians (not just something a school does for fun). It is said to be very medicinal and will make your immune system stronger, what do you think?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Lesson on Boundaries

There is an app on my iPad specifically for Adah. If you touch the screen (anywhere) the iPad will produce a piano note. Adah adores the musical sounds she can produce and will often crawl over to the iPad and will begin tapping the screen to let us know she wants to play.

Today, she decided she would discover what makes the music. She held the iPad in her little hands, tapped the screen to hear the notes, and then lifted the iPad to look at the back. She kept repeating this process, in order to determine the location of the sounds she loves to produce. In her curiosity, she placed the edge of the iPad in her mouth so she could continue to explore, something very common for a child of her age. I immediately told her that was not permitted by using the dreaded mom noise, the one that means “no.” You know, the terribly obnoxious and effective “AAAAH!” sound in your throat.

Adah was stunned and immediately dropped the iPad! She had never heard this sound before and was quite confused. But my little explorer was determined to test mom’s boundaries while seeking to ease her curiosity. She touched the iPad again to produce music while looking at me. There was no nasty mom noise, so she continued to play. After a few minutes of evidence of my child’s musical genius, she picked up the iPad and turned it to look at the back. She touched the screen again and then placed the edge of it in her mouth. “AAAAH!”

She stopped and looked at me immediately. She had a look of hurt on her face that said she was sad, but thinking. She tried it one more time, slowly placing the iPad in her mouth. “AAAAH!” She dropped the iPad and stared at it like it was her puppy that just got hit by a car. In my heart, I felt bad for reprimanding her, but I knew it was the right thing to do (especially since the warranty does not include damage from baby drool).  Tentatively, she began to touch the iPad again to make the noise she loves so much, all while watching me to ensure she was not doing wrong. After a few more moments, she continued to play her music and did not attempt to place the iPad in her mouth again (for now). Today, Adah was introduced to a few lessons. She learned about boundaries, limitations, and obedience.

Often times, life is like this for us. We test our boundaries, sometimes innocently, sometimes not. But like curious Adah, many times we are curious about the world around us. But in our naiveté and excitement, we can get into situations that lead us to places we shouldn't be. Many times, God does not immediately reprimand us verbally like a mother would. Sometimes though, He lets us face the consequences to let us grow and develop wisdom. But, He hasn't done it without proper guidance though. He has given us a tool to help us to learn The Way. Unfortunately, the Bible is not the easiest reading material. It takes a lot of studying in, and even studying about the Bible to get the context of some of the harder passages. But in essence, God is saying “if following Me is truly important to you, spending time with Me, learning my way for you, will be something you will want to do”. Sometimes the initial guidance and direction (not always in the sound of a deafening “AAAAH” ) isn't pleasant, but in the long run it will make your life more fulfilling….and less expensive, by not having to replace your iPad.

My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and to insight, “You are my relative.” They will keep you from [trouble]*.” Proverbs 7:1-5
*Slightly paraphrased