Challenging Medical Rescues
Greetings to our AMA Family,
On a recent Friday afternoon I had finished the day's flights and
decided to catch up on the grounds. With a large area of grass to
cut, rake, and carry away it takes a lot of time. It was threatening
to rain; thunderstorms were scattered on all sides, but maybe I
could get this job done. I'd just hopped on the mower and began
cutting the grass when Celso walked up. His presence indicated I
would be making yet another flight this day, so I prayed the call
was from a nearby village.
"I couldn't get you on the radio," he said, "so I figured you'd be
outside. The villages of Yunik and Warama have called. In Warama
someone has been snake bit, and the person in Yunik has gotten bit
by a spider." Both villages are within a 35 minutes from our base,
so I'd have time to make the flight before dusk.
We walked to the hanger and drained some of the fuel from the tanks.
I'd not landed in Warama for a long time, but remembered it to be a
bad strip with some really big humps. As I checked over the airplane
I decided to go there first, and then fly on to Yunik.
a 20 minute flight I circled over the strip taking a good look. It's
a challenging strip, one I've never liked. Short, with several very
big humps in it which make landing and taking off difficult. I saw a
dozen people still working on the strip. They'd cut the taller
grass, but done nothing to level the humps. Well, at least with the
grass slashed down I could tell where the strip is supposed to be. I
flew around to make an approach, praying for God to help me. Wiping
my sweating palms I turned final. Checking my air speed I slowed the
airplane more. Feeling the need to be slower in order to manage the
humps I checked the air speed indicator again. Its reading told me I
could not slow down more. I was already on the edge, holding it
steady with power. I set the plane down gently and braked hard so I
wouldn't be thrown into the air again by the first big hump and be
able to stop before the next one. I sighed with relief to be safely
stopped. Now I just had to get out!
The patient was being transported down the river to this strip—if
you can even call it such.
Shortly I saw a group carrying the patient up the hill to the
Taking off was no easier than the landing, but once off the
ground I headed on toward Yunik, which is a much better strip. The
challenge of that strip is to stay clear to the right in order to
avoid the big holes that would break off a wheel should you drop
The woman I picked up there was in a worse condition than I'd
thought she'd be from a spider bite. On the way to pick her up I'd
dropped off a former patient who was now well and returning home. As
I approached Santa Elena with these women needing medical help it
was an hour until dark. I knew if any more calls came in the people
would have to wait until the following day.
Sabbath was quiet until late afternoon, so at least I had the
chance to attend church. This call came from Parama, a village 20
minutes west. A mother had been in labor for more than a day. The
strip there is good, just narrow, and most of the time there's a
strong cross wind. This day the wind was only 10 knots with a bit of
rain cutting down visibility.
As we loaded the mother into the airplane the rain came down harder
and I could tell a big storm was closing in. With winds blowing hard
from the side I had to concentrate on holding the plane in the
middle of the narrow strip. In the air I was able to go around the
worst of the storm, and soon landed in Santa Elena.
For months we've had wing tip extensions sitting in the shop,
just waiting on paper work to get done so we could put them on.
These make such a difference getting in and out of these strips as I
can slow the plane more.
As I'm writing this letter the shop is nearly finished putting
them on. Now we can start paper work for the STOL kit. Pray with me
it won't take months and soon it can also be installed.
In spite of everything happening around the world, with things
just getting harder, God is keeping us going. We are able to touch
lives every day, giving people another chance at life. It is great
to be here and be a part of this ministry. Thanks to each one of you
for your prayers and support, for being a part of the AMA team and
making these flights possible.
Bob & Neiba Norton
Your personal notes can be sent to Bob and
You can be a part
of the AMA team through your prayers and financial support. You may
send your contributions to the address below. Please include a
separate note stating the funds are for Norton's Venezuela. Thanks!
P.O. Box 506
Collegedale, TN 37315