Two MAF aircraft in Timor-Leste!

On 12 February at around 12 o’clock in Dili, what we have been working towards for more than a year-and-a-half was finally a reality.

Ron Watts (who you may remember from his record-breaking flights in 2013) raised an outstanding $190,000 towards this project, and it was his privlege to accompany Pilot Brad Ballin on the ferry flight from Mareeba QLD to Dili.

The flight was completed in two stages. Leaving Mareeba at 7:30am, stopping in both Normantan and Borroloola, Brad and Ron arrived in Darwin just after 4:00pm and overnighted there. The next morning they took flight again, this time over the sea! In roughly 4 hours, VH-MQO landed safely in Dili, amidst the excitement of the whole welcoming committee.

Watch the aircraft arrive here! 

Timor-Leste’s Minister for Petroleum, Mr Alfredo Pires, was also present, who has a particular interest in the contribution MAF is making towards the welfare of the Timorese.

Pilots, engineers, admin staff, volunteers, generous donors and a whole lot of prayer all played a part in making this possible!

Find out the difference MAF is making in Timor-Leste:  watch the video

The whole story:

In June 2013, MAF was able to purchase 5 second-hand GA8 aircraft for a very good price.

However, it was no small feat retrieving them!

Situated in the remote town of Kununurra WA, each aircraft had to be thoroughly checked by our engineers and pilots before being flown back to Mareeba QLD.

After inspection, it was found that only two of the five aircraft had engines that could fly. Solving a logistical puzzle, two aircraft flew to Mareeba, had their engines removed, and then the good engines were driven all the way from Mareeba back to Kununurra, along with a whole lot of spare parts and special tooling. Crossing almost 3,000km with a van and trailer, this trip took several days. The engines were installed in two of the remaining aircraft, which flew to Mareeba (while the van drove back) and again one engine was driven back to Kununurra to retrieve the final aricraft. Phew!

Once VH-MQO arrived in Mareeba there was still a lot of work to be done. The fund-raising for this aircraft took 9 months. Once it was fully funded a complete refurbishment could be completed, which included a thorough inspection of the whole aircraft, a new engine, new seat covers, an avionics upgrade and a repaint with MAF’s paint scheme, not to mention the pile of paperwork to go with it!

You can imagine our excitement in seeing this aircraft finally arrive to serve the people of Timor-Leste!

Thank you for your support and prayers in making our dream a reality!

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