... Crossing Great Distances ...

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It took some time to get the aircraft into position. "Indonesia is a big country. We flew the Caravan from its base, where there was no tsunami damage, to Medan, in Sumatra, which was about 3,000 miles. So it's like flying from New York to L.A," Fulton said. The 206 also had to fly about 1,500 miles. The Caravan now is based at Medan, which was undamaged by the earthquake and tsunami. "It's a big city, and it has an international airport," Fulton said. Those pilots are able to get fuel at the airport and sleep in a hotel. The 206 is based at Meulaboh, on the coast south of Banda Aceh, near the epicenter of the disaster. The small airport there was damaged in the quake. "But we were able to land both the Caravan and the 206 on the undamaged portions of the runway," Fulton said. The 206 pilots are living "out in the elements." They have sleeping bags, and camp in abandoned and damaged buildings. Avgas is brought to them by the Indonesian air force. Most of the pilots are MAF staff from the U.S. and Europe, Fulton said, who have raised money from their local churches to support their efforts. Nearly all of them have A&P licenses as well as commercial pilot certificates. MAF also has a program to train Indonesian pilots, and some of them are participating as well.