Missionary Aviation

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Greg Bockelman, Jan 7, 2021.

  1. Greg Bockelman

    Greg Bockelman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Anyone here familiar with any Missionary Aviation organizations? I may be interested in flying for one in my retirement, but don’t really know anything about them.
     
  2. texasclouds

    texasclouds Cleared for Takeoff

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    I’m interested as well.
     
  3. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 Pattern Altitude

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    Me three!
     
  4. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

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    Only one I’ve talked to was Missionary Flights International. They’re based at FPR and have BT-67s
     
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  5. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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  6. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    JAARS International (formerly Jungle Aviation and Radio Service, an arm of Wycliffe Bible Translators) operates largely in South America. They used to have the world's largest fleet of Helio Couriers. Might still. Based in Waxhaw, NC.

    Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) operates in numerous countries around the world. The US arm is based in Nampa, ID. Canadian office is in Guelph, ON. I was a short-term MAFC guy. MAF also has several European arms and an Australian arm.

    Both outfits tend to want younger people. Older folks have served, but they need lots of experience, especially if they want to fly. The work can be dangerous and exhausting, and the cultural and environmental conditions take their toll, too. Older folks don't adapt well at all. There are some older folks working in the home offices and shops, though. Mechanics, especially, are getting scarce.

    Both outfits have websites.
     
  7. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    I know at Airventure there was a tent with a half-dozen or so organizations. Maybe you could get a vendor map/list from 2019 and start there.
     
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  8. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    Mission Aviation Fellowship

    https://maf.org/

    Here's one of their TU206s on a training flight at Mackay Bar in the Idaho backcountry.

    2028299_HDR.jpeg
     
  9. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Gospel Ministries International is based right here at KFGU.

    They have a Cessna 441 they fly down to South America, as well as a couple other aircraft. Might be somewhere to keep in mind.

    https://gospelministry.org/
     
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  10. MacFly

    MacFly Line Up and Wait

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    I've flown with MFI several times years ago as a passenger into Haiti at time when it was the only way we could get cargo into the central highlands. Back then (about 15 years ago), they had a lot of..."rules"...consistent with their religious inclination. Those old DC-3's were a hoot though. Well designed and really well maintained, but that is a slow, slow ride from Ft. Pierce to Cap Haitien to Pignon. Now we fly into PAP commercial, ship cargo in by container, and use Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) to get around the country. The roads up there are much better than they used to be, so driving is more feasible than it used to be.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Looked into this long long ago. There’s two major items most potential volunteers don’t account for:

    1. Most organizations have very high mechanical knowledge standards. A&P is often a requirement on top of pilot certifications. Your dime.

    2. Most organizations expect the candidate to do a significant portion of their own fundraising — as high as 80% for some — to cover the complete costs. This includes everything from “salary” to aircraft procurement, modification, maintenance, and regular operational costs.

    Obviously the second one varies significantly depending on size of org and how much of their revenue is “institutional” for lack of a better word.

    But they definitely don’t need or really want “Joe Pilot who’s bored and wants to fly cheap”.

    They need “Pilot willing to run their entire show as a business, do the vast majority of the work including most maintenance, and raise most of the capital needed annually to keep their individual plane flying and themselves fed.”

    Show up with a plan for the money and a fundraising skill set. Otherwise they’ll be extremely polite and nice, but you won’t be flying for them. Almost all provide “home time” where you’re expected to be updating existing donors on status and pounding the pavement for new donors.

    In the end, the bills have to get paid. You’re the public face of the org and better be good at presenting to large audiences and know which large audiences you can access and how much they’ll typically give.

    The bigger orgs have some people doing that who are ex-pilots or professional fundraisers and a back office to help collect, analyze, etc... but the donors want to see and hear from the current pilots.
     
  12. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 Pattern Altitude

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    Wow that changes things. I am not good at selling things. Myself included. I just want to help.
     
  13. Greg Bockelman

    Greg Bockelman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That is the problem I am having. That just isn’t my strong suit.
     
  14. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Denverpilot’s comments are pretty accurate. Almost all of them expect you to have a mechanic certificate and do your own fundraising. It’s not a free ride.

    You might be best off checking with the church you’re a member of to see if they have any ties to a mission aviation group. I know the association I am part of does, and they occasionally have opportunities that pop up.
     
  15. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Just about like every other non-profit I have known.

    A few years ago I talked to a missionary school that offered flight training thinking my off airport and Alaska experience would be something useful for the school. But they wanted a instructor that would spend about 50% of the time raising money, 50% mechanic and 10% flying. And the students were required to come up with the funds to pay for their flight training by going to their church and raising the money through donations to help them start learning about how to raise money. Again, like most non-profits I am aware of.

    It is actually not that bad. You are not trying to sell yourself, but showing folks what the company does and where the company goes then what the money you are asking for is going to be used for. With LOTS of pictures, usually of young children living and playing in awful looking 3rd world conditions where the company goes. Think of the commercials on Tv. A good non-profit organization will train their folks in fund raising. And you will be helping, even if you think you are not doing a lot.

    Agreed, fund raising is not my favorite thing to do, but it can be very personally rewarding.
     
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  16. DFH65

    DFH65 Pattern Altitude

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    From the research I have done as mentioned most want A&P as well as Commercial or above with a lot of hours. There must be no missionary pilot shortage. Like most missionary orgs you raise your own salary and it is more than you think because it has to cover administrative costs as well.

    There are a few places you can volunteer to work for a few weeks but you won't be flying.
     
  17. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    Above is a pretty accurate description. My sister works for MAF, but not in a flying/aviation capacity. I know a few pilots that have flown for them and other organizations. The organization provided training and support, not only in flying, but in things like dealing with foreign goverments, shipping requirements, Managing resources monetary and otherwise.
    I occasionally donate my time to pilots wanting to meet their training/experience requirements.
    As I recall the typical routine is something like 1 year of fundraising and then 2-5 years in remote locations often operating pretty much by themselves or very limited educated staff. Need a cylinder changed, you are going to be the one doing it. Then back State side for another year to raise funds for the next few years abroad. When I looked into MAF I think the maximum age to apply was something like 35.

    Brian
     
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  18. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    I completely forgot about the age requirements. Yeah many do have those too.

    I did the rounds, met with people at colleges that specialized in feeding MAF/JAARS and such with degrees, visited the Elizabethon, TN location when it was open, and flew up and met some nice MAF folks in Ontario, CA as a very young naieve pup once... All over the course of a summer.

    Learned a lot about that “biz”.

    It’s a highly dedicated bunch of folks really. Back then at least, also fairly impressive at getting bang for buck out of every possible resource, human or monetary.

    I think for the “average” domestic pilot the Angel Flight type orgs are the “easiest” to help out with. Less barriers to entry. Still need to be pretty dedicated with time and wallet though to really do it well.
     
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  19. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I have a friend who flew in Central America for Wings of Hope years ago. She talks fondly of her experiences.
     
  20. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    A while back I had a good look over one of MAF's Kodiak's parked at my home airport. Decked out with VGs, etc.
     
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  21. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    As others have said, you have to fund raise for your flights. There are many ways to go about this. One guy I know gives biplane tours in addition to donations through his church. The actual flying is probably 10% of the commitment. You really have to be devoted to the cause more than just a desire to fly. Good group of people who do it though.
     
  22. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

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    They had 2 operational and 3 or 4 DC-3s being converted when I was down there looking at a Bonanza they had a few years ago. Definitely a neat operation
    42306159662_fefed2ec7e_k (1).jpg
     
  23. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Bro do you even lift
    Well Greg, why not just work for some of the commercial operators that fly DC3's out of Central and South America? Their mission is just as vital, and they may want someone with your experience.
     
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  24. Plano Pilot

    Plano Pilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I you want to stay in the Pacific you should check out Pacific Missionary Aviation Pacific Mission Aviation (pmapacific.org). Back in the 70's and 80's some of the Air Mic pilots helped and or flew for them some.
     
  25. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

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    A Missionary position can be very comfortable, and exhilarating. It takes someone who can pace themselves and set the right rhythm. Definitely not something you want to peak out early in.

    Good look in your search.
     
  26. Jumpmaster

    Jumpmaster Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My wife and I supported an MAF missionary for something like 15 years. He got his A&P at a local community college. His parents owned a plane and so he was able to get his ratings (Private, Instrument and Commercial) that way and got his tail wheel from some friend, all out of a small dirt/grass strip. He flew a 185 out of Indonesia for years and eventually got his float rating. The fund-raising was actually fairly simple. Both him and his wife were church kids so they made MAF presentations at their home churches and a few others and were able to lock in long-term supporters. Fund-raising may be the easiest part of it. I think MAF still uses Moody Bible Institute at Felts Field (KSFF) for the A&P and the transition training into a Kodiak which are manufactured just up the road at Sandpoint, Idaho (KSZT). I’ve also looked into it but don’t have the interest in doing the A&P.
     
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  27. RudyP

    RudyP Line Up and Wait

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  28. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    And they seem to be at least a part of his fundraising...directing people to his store, and building matching flight plans into MSFS. Seems like a good idea.
     
  29. Crissie Rask

    Crissie Rask Filing Flight Plan

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    Hey, I can't post a link now, but search Mission Aviation Fellowship - check under Serve - will have information, FAQs and a way to contact someone. Most countries where we operate do have restrictions on pilot licensing age-wise, however.
     
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  30. Roland Donnell

    Roland Donnell Filing Flight Plan

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    Another pretty good example. My Pacer with a crosswind is enough adrenalin for me and that from just thinking about it during the drive to the airport.

     
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  31. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    This. You really are a missionary first and foremost. The flying is secondary.

    My wife and I are long time supporters of MAF. We were actually supporters of Joyce Lin (the girl who was killed last year flying the Kodiak that crashed in Indonesia)
     
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  32. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm not sure that's still the case. Joyce Lin was 42 when she was killed and she had just started. I know she spent a few years building up to that, but don't think it was 7.
     
  33. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

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    Welcome to the forum! Donuts and coffee are over there in the corner. Pull up a keyboard and join in.

    MAF is one of the groups my wife and are pleased to give a little support to (in fact, one of their mailings is sitting here on my desk) but I'm too old and unqualified to volunteer with them. I do volunteer with Engineering Ministries International ( https://emiworld.org/ ), though, and EMI (not me personally) has partnered with MAF in the past to develop aviation facilities in remote locations. EMI can be another way for you to get involved if you're a qualified engineer or architect.

    Like MAF, EMI volunteers and staff either pay their own way or raise funding, but at least in EMI there isn't the expense of maintaining aircraft. Missionary groups all operate this way, and it makes perfect sense. The people who need the help are unable to pay and the help costs money, so helping means raising money, too.
     
  34. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    As I pointed out earlier, older folks can qualify if they have the right experience. I know a former airline pilot that flew for them for a couple of years in his 50s.

    And not always do they demand an A&P. They've seen people burn themselves out on busy bases, flying much of the day and maintaining at night. It introduces serious fatigue risks. Add the fact that for most of us we're either good mechanics or good pilots; only a few are good at everything. An A&P can make a pilot considerably smarter, though. He knows what's going on in the airplane and how to better deal with problems.
     
  35. tmyers

    tmyers En-Route

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  36. Bob Roberts

    Bob Roberts Pre-Flight

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    That is one beautiful plane!

    I recently interviewed Ryan Farran who is the Missionary Bush Pilot out of PNG. If interested, it's on my channel.
     
  37. RyanShort1

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    I'm gonna be a wet blanket. I think many of these organizations shouldn't call themselves missionary, but missionary support ops at best, not that that's wrong.
     
  38. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

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    What in your mind is the distinction?
     
  39. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    I mean, if I give money to my friends who are missionaries in Mexico, I don't call myself a missionary, neither if I drive a load of medical supplies down, and I wouldn't if I flew it down, either. And yes, I think all Christians are supposed to share the gospel, but I think that the term should be reserved for those who are specifically sent out by a church to share the gospel. I think the aviation support can be helpful, but it's mostly logistics.
     
  40. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Bro do you even lift
    From where I am standing, that is my assessment as well. The pilots may well have strong religious convictions, but I suspect that they are doing what they do for the excitement, to build time, and to be able to shoot cool videos to post to Youtube rather than out of religious conviction. And I don't have a problem with that at all. They perform a logistical service that might not otherwise be available if they weren't doing it. There are commercial operations in Indonesia that perform the same mission, but I suspect that goodwill flights to remote mountain villages they perform are funded by charity, which is basically the same thing as a missionary flight service.