The world of aviation offers many benefits to missions. Aviation is one of the backbone ministries that equip a multitude of ministries to be able to reach remote areas of the world. Important efforts like Bible translation, church planting, medical needs, disaster relief and basic supply delivery would be challenging if not impossible in some parts of the world without aviation.
Building roads often doesn’t give the poorest access to services they need. When dealing with health problems, airplanes can mean the difference between life and death. Aviation accomplishes in 8 to 10 minutes what might take two to three days on foot. Even when roads exist, they may not be in conditions suitable for use in all seasons. Injured individuals may suffer additional injuries while being transported to a hospital from a remote location on local roads.
Remote airstrips may not look like much but they provide critical access for people who might have no other option or opportunity. This part of the world does not enjoy a 9-1-1 emergency system providing quick access to skilled medical professionals.
MAG works where others cannot or will not.
MAG breaks new ground where necessary. It specifically targets areas with a recognized “service gap” related to both medical care access and aviation support. In other words, we seek to serve areas where no medical care is available and nobody else is flying. This requires us to do many things and temporarily take on many roles seemingly outside the scope of “missionary aviation” in order to pioneer work where none has previously existed. We must maintain a “whatever it takes” attitude and a conscious daily dependence upon God to succeed in “frontier mission” settings.
MAG is an aviation ministry with a medical emphasis. The term “missionary aviation” is a broad term encompassing all areas of ministry support. We will undoubtedly have calls to use the airplane to support an array of ministry needs in the areas we serve–and we’ll happily respond. However, we will pay special attention to the specific requirements and challenges associated with missionary medical services.
First, we must understand the distinction between differing medical missions we might fly.
- logistical support / relief airlift means getting supplies and people into an area in need
- medical transport / medical evacuation means getting sick people out to receive critical care
- mobile clinic / “flying doctor” service means circulating doctors for routine or preventive care
- air ambulance / aeromedical response means providing onsite and inflight care and transport
Of the four distinct missions listed above, the first three are relatively common but the last is not. True “air ambulance” service requires a specialized combination of equipment, aircraft modifications, personnel, and training that virtually nobody else in the missionary aviation community currently provides. MAG works toward the goal of operating effectively and professionally in all four medical missions. This means getting good at interfacing with medical organizations and eventually recruiting missionary medical flight crew (flightnurse / flightparamedic).
Mentoring: We are an aviation ministry helping prepare other missionary aviators.
MAG recognizes that it bears a shared responsibility (and great opportunity) within the broader missionary aviation community related to the great unmet need for well prepared missionary aviators. Mission Safety International (MSI) reports that the majority of missionary aviation accidents are not due to lack of technical skills and training, but ultimately to spiritual factors. These factors can include emotional stress, maturity, and family closeness. So, an emphasis on true mentoring rather than traditional technical training is needed (and currently lacking) in the missionary aviation community.
We do not view training and mentoring as additional tasks we perform. Rather, these along with safety, professional development, etc., are infused everywhere as part of MAG’s organizational culture. Convinced that we “best do as we teach and best teach as we do”, we are intentional about designing field programs with the capacity to accommodate interns, apprentices, and trainees. The presence of students requires that we are always “at the top of our game,” which is ultimately to our own benefit.
To that end, we have formally entered into a major (exclusive) training partnership with MMS Aviation to provide flight training and field experience to qualifying MMS apprentices. We will also seek further opportunities toprovide shortterm internships to collegebased missionary aviation programs. (ie. LeTourneau, Liberty).
Missionary Maintenance Service (MMS Aviation) prepares people and planes for worldwide mission service. People are prepared to serve as a missionary aircraft mechanics through a 30-month aviation maintenance apprenticeship program. Over the course of the program, each apprentice logs a minimum of 4,800 hours of hands-on experience performing maintenance, modification, and repair of missionary aircraft from ministries all over the world.
Since 1975, MMS has served 105 Mission aviation organizations (ongoing maintenance relationships exist with many), performing over 550 major aircraft repairs and modifications. Sixty-nine graduates have served or are serving in remote locations around the world. In 2014, MMS Aviation mechanics worked over 22,000 man hours on 22 aircraft from 19 different ministry organizations there is no labor charge to ministry aircraft operators; however, partners do pay for parts and materials.
Currently, there are 14 families are serving as MMS core staff. There are four apprentice mechanics and one certified mechanic gaining experience in the program. All MMS personnel are faith-support missionaries.