Photos courtesy MAF
4. Made of flexible rubber just like that found in truck mud flaps, the gravel deflectors on MAF planes help keep rocks from destroying
the tail of the 206. 5. S-frame seats collapse in high vertical speed collisions, acting as a shock absorber for the spine. 6. A simple
tailskid helps reduce the maintenance costs associated with over-rotations at max gross.
the tail section is a small skid to protect the tail cone
from damage when the airplane aggressively rotates at
maximum gross weight from a short field.
Because the remote areas where the MAF operates
are often located in mountainous terrain, many MAF
aircraft are turbocharged. Hook says, “The turbo gives
our pilots the extra oomph they need to power out of
mountainside airfields—especially on hot days when
the density altitude would keep a normally aspirated
Protecting their pilots in the extreme environments in
which they fly is a primary concern of the MAF. Safety
harnesses with inertial reels are standard equipment
on all MAF planes. Also, all MAF pilots are required to
wear flight helmets. Hook says that the helmets have
spared several pilots from head injuries.
The energy-absorbing S-frame seats are also unique
to MAF Cessnas; they collapse under high g-loads and
protect the occupants from spinal injuries. The seats
are held secure in Brownline tracks, replacements for
the notoriously cranky original equipment rails found
on older Cessnas.
That takes care of the plane, but what about modifications to the pilot? How does the MAF train its pilots
to handle the rigors of jungle flying?
Hook says that applicants must have a minimum of 12
credit hours of Bible school. They also need a commercial
certificate with an instrument rating, a minimum of 400
hours of flight time, and an airframe and powerplant
certificate. If they meet all of these requirements, prospective pilots are invited to MAF headquarters in Nampa,
Idaho, for a thorough flight and maintenance evaluation.
Those who make it up to that rung in the MAF ladder
are called back to Idaho for orientation training that
includes emphasis on mountain flying, desert flying, and
advanced techniques in short takeoffs and landings. MAF
pilots perform their mission work in third-world countries where the airfields are typically one-way, short, and
often on the side of mountains—with double-digit-degree
slopes. It takes special training to operate safely in these
After language training and learning to deal with the
government officials in their assigned country, MAF pilots
receive an average six-month checkout in the field with
a check pilot who orients them to every airstrip (and
their idiosyncrasies) in the region. Every six months they
receive a standardization flight check with a check pilot.
“We have a very thick operations manual,” says Hook.
“We have our own internal safety department, and we
catalog and investigate our own accidents and incidents
to help us improve safety. We’re professional pilots flying
in the bush, not bush pilots.”
Some of the modifications mentioned in this article are
available directly from the Cessna factory, or check out
for information about STOL kits, speed mods, auxiliary fuel
tanks, and other conversion products and suppliers.
Restraint systems are available from B.A.S. Inc. at 888-255-
6566 or on the web at www.BASInc-Aeromod.com.
STC’d cargo and combo cargo/fuel pods are available from
Gravel deflectors are available for the Cessna 180 through
the Caravan from Aero Twin Inc. at 907-274-6166 or on the
web at www.Aero Twin.com.
Micro Vortex Generator Kits for Cessna Skyhawks and
Skylanes (STC’d) provide an 8 percent reduction in stall
speed, improved aileron response, and reduced landing and
takeoff roll. Kits can be ordered from Micro Aerodynamics
at 800-677-2370 or www.MicroAero.com.
Sportsman STOL kits are available from Stene Aviation,