Story by By Katie Machell    

“A huge challenge”, “really enjoyable”, and “full of variety: no two days are the same”; these phrases could easily describe the work of a MAF pilot. They are in fact the words of Justin Welby, first-time passenger with MAF and 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, describing his new role.

Archbishop Welby and his wife Caroline, together with his Secretary for Anglican Communion Affairs Joanna Udal, and Eliud Wabukala, the Archbishop of Kenya, engaged the services of MAF Kenya to fly them to Dodoma, Tanzania for the installation of the country’s new archbishop. On a beautifully sunny afternoon, ably captained by pilot Adrian Rose, they enjoyed a smooth trip in a PC12, and were even able to catch a brief glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro on the way.

Thanks to a gap year spent in Kenya and his previous work in the oil industry, the Archbishop is a seasoned traveller in Africa, remembering particularly well his experiences as a passenger on the small planes that fly around Nigeria. He was reassured by Programme Manager Ian Sinkinson that his trip with MAF should be significantly less hair-raising!

He was not really aware of the work of MAF prior to this trip, and was very interested to learn more from Ian, about both the local and international work of the organisation; he was also presented with a copy of MAF Co-Founder Stuart King’s ‘Hope Has Wings’ book in order to discover more of the story at his leisure.

During the flight, the Archbishop shared something of the challenges he faces in his role, the biggest of which he described as “working out what not to do”. The prioritisation of need, especially when it appears so overwhelming, always presents a struggle, as no doubt every MAF Programme Manager and Operations Director would also attest to.

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From 17-19 May a team from the Cairns and Mareeba offices of MAF in Australia pushed a wheelbarrow in 20 seconds bursts 140 kilometres from Mareeba to Chillagoe following the ‘Wheelbarrow Way’ taken by early settlers.  They were one of 73 teams entered in the Great Wheelbarrow Race raising money for their nominated charity.  In their case it was to buy fuel to enable medical evacuation flights in Timor-Leste.  MAF’s Flying Barrows raised over $10,000 (and the total is still growing).  One of the most exciting donations was a gift of over 1,000 Kina (Au$450) from the MAF staff in PNG.  A number of the Mt Hagen hangar staff gave over a day’s salary in order to support the work of their colleagues in Timor-Leste.

But it wasn’t just the ten runners who made this happen, there were fund raisers and those who gave so generously, there were support crew setting up and putting down tents along the way and feeding the hungry runners at the end of each day too, there were those who babysat children so their parents could run, MAF kids who were enthusiastic cheerleaders at dozens of spots at the side of the road along the way, the Bus Mother Ruth Maisel who kept the bus and runners running efficiently and their fantastic bus driver Phil Snell.

Coming 31st out of 73 teams and 3rd in the over 40s category was great, but not the reason they entered.  Their motivation was to raise money for a cause that they believed in, as well as bringing glory to God and raising the profile of MAF in the Mareeba/Cairns region.   They certainly did this and they can’t wait for next year.

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Report by Paul Beck, MAFUK

It’s every boy’s dream to fly in an aircraft. While MAF pilots can’t grant the wishes of every young man they come across, an obvious exception is made for those requiring emergency medical treatment! Jimi, a boy in
Kalimantan, Indonesia recently needed such assistance, after a bicycling accident resulted in a compound fracture on his ankle that could only be treated by surgery. Residents in his remote village had to travel by boat for thirty minutes just to reach the airstrip, where a MAF plane was ready to make the rest of the journey possible.


Such ‘medevacs’ are almost a daily occurrence for pilots in Kalimantan, but the stories don’t end with the arrival at a medical facility. The local MAF team are also renting a house near the hospital where the families of those they have medically evacuated can stay while their loved one receives treatment. This provides a further opportunity to shine and share about God’s love.

Jimi returned on a MAF flight a week later, still facing a lengthy recovery that may never reach 100%. “At least he’ll have the hope of being able to walk again, whereas without MAF, he wouldn’t have had any chance of that,” explains pilot Dave Forney. 


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By Judith Dupuis Paul Beck    


A cluster of villages along a tributary of the Nile River, Old Fangak in South Sudan is impossibly remote. Access is by river barge, which must negotiate a complex maze of channels, ponds and tributaries in order to bring supplies to the 35,000 inhabitants. Even then, supplies are only brought in for the few who have cash or anything of worth to trade. With little access to education or medical provision, life in the bush that surrounds Old Fangak centres upon one objective; survival.

In one small village next to the river there is an airstrip which MAF uses to being in medical supplies and workers. The importance of this lifeline is critical. In 2011, the surrounding communities suffered short-lived flooding followed by a period of drought. When the unusually small crops of sorghum came up, an infestation of rats devoured nearly everything, leaving the people in a desperate state. The airstrip is too short for the World Food Programme’s aircraft to land, so in partnership with Medair and the Alaska Sudan Medical Project, MAF flew in food supplements and medicine.

The incidence of snakebite victims and medical evacuations is more prevalent in Old Fangak than anywhere else that MAF aircraft serve in South Sudan. Snakebites are an ugly sight. MAF fly victims to Leer for treatment where Medicins Sans Frontieres operates a surgical hospital. In some cases, lives have only been saved through amputation of the bitten limbs. “I was struck by the stoicism of a nine year-old boy that we flew to Leer for treatment,” begins MAF Pilot Michael Dupuis. “The boy was smiling and in good spirits when he arrived with his mother at the aircraft. He had never been in an airplane before, although I am quite sure that he was one of the many children who greet the aircraft every time we land there. When we were lifting him into the aircraft, this boy’s foot was a putrefied mess of flesh falling off bone.

The blanket that he was carried in was covering this hideous sight from our other passengers and I wish that I had not seen this tragic affliction. Despite knowing that he would be losing part of his leg, he was still a boy excited to go flying and thinking about little else! I have carried several such snakebite victims and also provided a medical evacuation for a young man with a basketball-sized tumour on his knee.

Even one of the doctors serving in Old Fangak has needed to be flown out for medical reasons. Without the aircraft for transportation and without the care of so many dedicated medical teams working for MSF, Medair and Dr. Jill, the possibility for many of these people to physically survive would be nearly impossible,” Michael surmises.

Several other organisations serve the people of Old Fangak. MAF personnel draw strength from the fact that this includes groups like the the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, who are actively involved in evangelistic ministries. Taken together, this combined assistance is bringing hope in a place where it is in particularly short supply. 


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While doing my daily inspection at Kiunga in the Western Province (WP) of PNG, I received a call from the MAF Operations Manager in Mt Hagen for not one, but three patients needing medical evacuation to the Mt Hagen hospital from the rarely used airstrip at Erave.

Erave in the Southern Highlands Province (SHP) is like a lot of highland communities. Years ago the airstrip was heavily used, but recently it has been a bit forgotten. Many communities have let their airstrips close, since they, like Erave, have been blessed with a road.

Photo courtesy The National newspaper and the Provincial Disaster Committee 11/09/12    

But after two weeks of continuous heavy rain five bridges had been washed away or damaged beyond use on the only road link (below) into the Erave area, cutting off 100,000 people. **

The maintenance of the Erave airstrip had been hanging on by a thread really. They had cut just enough grass to keep it open in recent years. Most landings by MAF aircraft had only been for training purposes to give pilots a bad weather landing option in the notorious Southern Highlands region, where the weather can be particularly nasty.

I was going to fly to Mt Hagen, a 13⁄4 hour flight, to conduct training with other pilots, and I would be in the vicinity of Erave on the way.

So after the medevac call my flight plan was redirected to include Erave where I was able to pick up the three patients and fly them the 30 min flight to Mt. Hagen.

There was a lady, Frieda, with pregnancy complications and her husband Simon. She was probably a high risk case that needed transfer to a hospital BEFORE a real urgent medevac was necessary. Then a lady, Rose, with hand and arm knife wounds, with her guardian, and finally Luke, a man with a smashed knee cap wound from a tribal fight, who was brought to the plane in a wheelbarrow by his guardian, Pastor David.

Having a carer/guardian is important for ‘survival’ in most public hospitals in PNG as they have to provide the ‘care’ when no facilities for food, cooking, washing, or bedding are provided .

The GA8 turbo Airvan, P2-MKK donated by MAF Denmark, was a plane well suited for this job. Bigger than a Cessna 206, it carried a stretcher case (above), plus five seated passengers. Its turbocharged engine meant that I wasn’t concerned about the climb-out which is in close proximity to terrain on all sides. So this aircraft was ideal, and the relatively low cost of operating it, compared to our larger aircraft, meant that the cost of such a flight is more manageable for those with limited finances. 

In this case, the secretary of the Evangelical Church of PNG Health Services (ECPNGHS) in the SHP, Keith Kedekai, arranged for funding for the charter flight, with some additional local community contribution.

Communities often try to help with the cost of medevacs, but many cannot cope with the real cost of the flight, and MAF’s subsidised rates make all the difference. The church charter rate, which is very cheap thanks to our subsidy system fed by donors from around the world, means that these church health funds can cater for many more patient transfers and medevacs with the small amount of funding they have.

As we flew into Mt Hagen, Luke, with the knee injury, raised his eyes above the window sill to look out over the mountainous terrain. Years ago, the distance would have meant days and days of walking through dangerous country, dangerous for both terrain-related and possibly tribal-related reasons. Now, as he looked out, there was a road below, offering some means of connection. But the loss of just one bridge meant that once again the Erave people relied on MAF to be their lifeline in a time of need.

Bridge or no bridge, some cases are so urgent that flying is really the only way to get timely help. Nobody wants to drive on pot-holed, bumpy roads for hours when they have a shattered kneecap, or when just getting into a vehicle causes them to wince from their injuries. 

When they were all finally settled in the ambulance (bottom left ), they smiled at the news “You are now on the way to hospital.” Pastor David replied, “MAF balus I bin kam olgeta long Kiunga long kisim mipela, taim mipela singaut long redio!- The MAF plane came all the way from Kiunga to pick us up when we called out on the radio.” 

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