Saturday, April 29, 2017

St. Louis Power Lines Serviced Using Helicopter Assisted Crews

By Mark Nankivil 
Power lines in St. Louis and St. Louis County are again being serviced by helicopter-borne crews.  They are working along the route of the high power lines that run through Midtown and into St. Louis County, working the towers along I-44 just west of River Des Peres.  Though I have only caught one helicopter here, there are two in the area working adjacent towers at the same time.  The services are provided by Winco Powerline Services of Aurora, OR, specializing in challenging powerline construction and servicing projects using MD-500 (Hughes 369F series) utility helicopters.  Here is an up-close look at how aviation is critical to maintaining the infrastructure we often take for granted: 





Thursday, April 27, 2017

Wings of Hope Contributes Missionary Airplane for STEM Project

By Carmelo Turdo
The Aero Experience continues our periodic coverage of the great Midwest Aviation service organization,  Wings of Hope, with more from our visit earlier this month.  In our earlier story, we reviewed the missions performed from St. Louis and around the world.  The Medical Relief and Air Transport Program provides air transportation at no cost for patients needing specialist treatment in facilities in the Midwest.  Wings of Hope also provides direct and indirect medical aviation support within several African and South American countries.  The St. Louis headquarters facility provides corporate management and aircraft maintenance services in a very efficient and professional manner.  Numerous examples of the great work performed by Wings of Hope are illustrated in The Aero Experience stories over the last few years.

During our most recent visit, we were introduced to Adventist World Aviation Missionary Jud Wickwire, whose Canadian Cessna 182 was receiving an avionics upgrade by Big River Aviation's Paul Voorhees.  We were also informed of the current STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) project involving a Wings of Hope Aircraft that will be used for medical air transportation by Adventist World Aviation in Nicaragua following its refurbishment and required safety inspections.  Thanks to Wings of Hope Communications Manager Carol Enright, we were able to learn more about the STEM aircraft program and meet with Jud Wickwire in the Wings of Hope hangar.

Last September 23, a Cessna 182, the workhorse of missionary aviation, was delivered by Wings of Hope to Lancaster Regional Airport for use in a STEM challenge program with the Lancaster, TX Independent School District.  The program was designed by Experience Aviation, a non-profit organization founded by Barrington Irving, to give students hands-on experience in aircraft airframe and powerplant (A&P) maintenance under the supervision of a certified A&P mechanic.  In addition to performing routine and required maintenance, the program includes an engine overhaul, avionics update and the installation of STOL (Short Takeoff and Landing) kit on the wings for better performance on small, unpaved airstrips.  The aircraft will then become a vital means of access to remote villages where routine and emergency medical care is currently unavailable.

The Lancaster Build & Soar Program, as it is known, provides opportunities for 50 students from Lancaster High School to participate in the aircraft refurbishment project and apply the STEM knowledge they received through their academic courses.  From October 1, 2016 through a portion of May 2017, the students will work through rotating Saturdays for a minimum of ten sessions.  The aircraft will then return to Wings of Hope in St. Louis to be painted and inspected before it will receive a sendoff for service as a medevac plane in Nicaragua with Adventist World Aviation.  This project is one in a series of successful Build & Soar programs that have involved over 500 students since 2008.

The background information on this program, and the images of the aircraft delivery and student interaction below, were provided by Wings of Hope:


During our most recent visit to Wings of Hope, we were fortunate to meet with our old friend Paul Voorhees of Big River Aviation and then with a new friend, Jud Wickwire, a missionary pilot with Adventist World Aviation.  Wickwire, a native of British Columbia, Canada, was a bush pilot and ran a fishing lodge prior to joining with Adventist World Aviation.  He served in the South American country of Guyana for over five years as Chief Pilot of Wings for Humanity, and is currently Vice President of Operations for Adventist World Aviation Headquarters Canada.  The Aero Experience was privileged to spend a few minutes with Jud Wickwire as his aircraft maintenance was completed.


Missionary flying in Guyana is a challenge, with most missions comprised of deploying from the base in Mabaruma to fly seriously ill or injured patients from remote villages to medical facilities in the capital, Georgetown.  Other missions support the medical outreach programs (preventive medicine, wellness checks) and the missionary work of the General Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventists. Networks in the U.S. and Canada provide flight training, missionary training, and corporate management needed to navigate the legal and financial aspects of maintaining and growing an international service ministry.  

Jud Wickwire has the calm demeanor one would expect from an experienced pilot who has flown for years in Third World conditions, but he also shares a compassion for others that is essential for missionary aviation service.  He noted that Adventist World Aviation missionary commitments are lengthy, up to six years, and require commitments from family and friends to support the missionaries during extended periods on location.  And flying medical missions in Guyana, despite support from the government there, is not without its emotional high and low points.  "I have had three patients die in my airplane, and one born," he said.  All the while, serving others with his skill as an aviator, while supporting the ministry, made his time in Guyana a fulfilling experience.

The Aero Experience will continue to report regularly on the impact that Wings of Hope has on Midwest Aviation and around the world.  Thank you to Wings of Hope for your hospitality and assistance in writing this story.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Teachers Aviation Career Day Introduces Educators to Aviation STEM Resources

By Carmelo Turdo
The Midwest Aviation Community again showed support for STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics) education and aviation career development by participating in Teachers Aviation Career Day at Mid America Airport in Mascoutah, IL Tuesday.  The event provided area K-12 educators with a first-hand look at available area aviation service providers and resources that add value to the STEM curricula many school districts are developing.  According to Keith Mueller, representing Southwestern Illinois College and a key organizer, there were 160 schools from 13 counties in the St. Louis and Metro East Illinois area scheduled to be represented by the attendees, and it is hoped that this event will spark enhanced communication among educators and the aviation community.

The exhibits were arranged on both floors of the Mid America Airport terminal, and several aircraft arrived and parked on the apron.  The exhibitors represented all aspects of aviation, including commercial airlines, military careers, flying schools and college aviation programs, advocacy groups, educational non-profit organizations and even camera drone operators.  Having the event at an airport, with the aircraft present, emphasized the point that aviation services and careers are important to everyday life, and that the skills needed to participate in aviation as a vocation are within the grasp of those students who participate in STEM programs.  

The Aero Experience is pleased to congratulate the organizers and educators for participating in this great aviation community outreach event, and we will support future efforts to encourage on-going communication between the Midwest Aviation community and area school districts.  We have prepared this photo essay showing some of the exhibitors and the aircraft on display, and encourage those who could not attend this event to seek out information about the role aviation can play in your STEM programs.

Overhead view of a portion of the lower level exhibit hall

Challenger Learning Center-St. Louis


Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 64

Federal Aviation Administration

Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum

Greater St. Louis Flight Instructors Association

Ninety-Nines and Women With Wings

Southern Illinois University

Southwestern Illinois College

Sparta Aero Services

Trans States Airlines

Transportation Security Administration

Wings of Hope

Yield Enhancement Service

Aircraft were parked on the apron behind the terminal, representing various aviation groups and aircraft types.  Educators visited with the pilots and became familiar with various flying opportunities available in the St. Louis and Metro East Illinois area.

General layout of the apron:

General Aviation aircraft used by the State of Illinois, Southern Illinois University Flight Program, and Mr. Bob McDaniel's personal aircraft that has flown many Young Eagles with Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 64:

Vans Aircraft RV-7A built and flown by Mr. Larry Frey:

Cessna 182 used by the Civil Air Patrol:

Cirrus SR20 used by the Parks College of St. Louis University Flight Program:

Piper Cherokee Representing Sparta Aero Services:

Pitts S-2A Special used for teaching aerobatic flight by Bi-Plane Training: 

Bell Helicopter Textron 206 Long Ranger used for medical air transport by Survival Flight:

Special thanks to the organizers, exhibitors, attending educators, and Mid America Airport for making this Midwest Aviation outreach event a great success.  The Aero Experience will continue to promote and participate in events and programs that will encourage the development of aviation themes in STEM education.