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SW Aviator Feb/Mar 2001
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A Leap of Faith
Kingdom Flight
We purchased our Cessna Skyhawk in July of 1999 and have enjoyed many hours of flying, whether it be for a short hop for lunch or a ten-day flying vacation throughout our beautiful home state of California. My wife and our four-year-old son also love flying and traveling, and the freedom that it has to offer. After a financial setback that made us face the reality that it’s money, not merely the aerodynamic force of lift, that keeps us poking holes through the clouds, we were forced to look at what was really important in life.

As parents and role models to our son, we wanted to lead by example and felt we wanted to make a difference with our lives by helping others, but hadn’t a clue as to how. As a series of events unfolded, Kingdom Flight was born. In mid-October 2002, our pastor was speaking on the topic of serving. He asked the question, “What is your passion? You can use your passion to help others,” he said. The first thing that came to my mind was my passion for flying. I’m a private pilot, we have our own airplane, and we love flying. But my second thought was, how could I justify such an expensive hobby as being an inspiration from above, let alone link it to helping others? This is where the vision began.

The idea of Kingdom Flight was born. The concept was simple but unique. Our plan was to utilize private aircraft to airlift food, water, clothing, and medicine to people in need in remote areas that are otherwise difficult to access. The plan was to start a non-profit corporation, find a capable aircraft to deliver the goods, and to bring the need to the local churches and community to provide the cargo itself. Another dynamic of Kingdom Flight is providing the opportunity for others to travel with us on these missions to experience the life-changing blessing of serving others. Our plan was to fly these missions as often as possible.

In order to accomplish these tasks, we knew we would need to acquire some serious aircraft for these missions, as it would take aircraft capable of bringing supplies plus five to eight passengers on each trip. Hardly a mission profile suitable for our slow and low-flying Skyhawk! The Cessna Caravan would be the ideal aircraft, but at $1.5 million, it was totally out of the question for us to purchase this plane ourselves. As I said, this whole idea came to us while we were financially embarrassed, to say the least. Our next plan was to charter a Caravan for the first mission to El Paso, Texas. We called a local charter service, which happened to have the only Caravan available in Southern California for charter, but he informed us it would cost us roughly $4500 for his services. We then looked into chartering a D-C 3 and found out that this thirsty and relatively slow plane would be closer to $8000 for the same trip! We knew that if we were meant to fly this first mission, it would take some help from above. We went forward with our plans, but had no idea how we would get there. At the last minute, a commercial airline pilot in Northern California who owns a Cessna 411 and a dentist in Las Vegas who owns a Comanche, who each have been helping others with their planes for years, heard about our plan and offered to help. Just like that, we were off on our first mission in January 2003. Soon, another pilot in our area heard about Kingdom Flight and offered the use of his Seneca II for the next few missions.

Our first trip was to what has become one of our most rewarding mission fields. It’s a little colonia (neighborhood) on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, in the Mexican County of Chihuahua. In the shadows of a city of more than 2 million, a mere 30-minute ride from the US border at El Paso, Texas, is a children’s shelter where hungry children are fed and bathed. Kingdom Flight and Uno En Cristo (a local church), have been able to partner in an ongoing basis this year, ensuring that these kids would not go without food, providing meals two days a week. Under normal circumstances, many of these children are left to fend for themselves, as their parents either simply cannot afford to feed them or go off for days at a time in search of drugs or alcohol.

Because Juarez, Mexico is in such close proximity to El Paso, Texas, we’ve found it easier to fly from our home base at Corona Airport in Southern California to Dona Ana County Airport in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. The runway at Dona Ana is 8500 ft. long and more than adequate for any type of aircraft we have available for this mission area. From Santa Teresa, it’s only a short drive by van to bring the supplies over to the children’s shelter. This way, we avoid the time-consuming hassles of clearing customs in both the U.S. and Mexico.

Flying into an airport with an 8500 ft. paved runway is one thing, but flying into a 1600 ft. remote jungle airstrip is quite another. In May of 2003, we completed a mission to Oaxaca, Mexico, which is at the southern-most part of the country. Growers First, a non-profit organization that exports wild, organically-grown coffee from the indigenous Indians in the jungles of Oaxaca, asked us to accompany them on this mission to assess a remote jungle airfield for future airlifts into this area. Because the villages where the Indians grow and harvest the coffee is located in a mountainous area with few or non-existent roads, it currently takes days to get supplies into this area by ground. Having this airfield available would save countless hours bringing in medical teams and supplies. This same trip by air would only take about twenty minutes. The runway is only 1600 feet long, but it is at a fairly low elevation (1258 msl), so density altitude should not be much of a factor on most days. We are currently trying to get permission from the Mexican government to use this field and hope to have it ready for our next mission when we plan to fly in teams with a local Cessna 206. The challenge of flying in the jungle, which at times affords little room for error, is a task not to be taken lightly, but the overwhelming beauty of this area that few pilots have the opportunity to view from the air, and the desperate need of these people to receive help, makes these missions well worth the risk.

Although the vision began exclusively for a specific area of the Southwestern United States and Mexico, the opportunities seem to be opening to Kingdom Flight around the world on a daily basis, as we currently have requests for help in remote areas of Canada, the United States, South Africa, and Australia. To date we’ve flown six missions providing hope to those that have none. Our goal is to soon have a fleet of aircraft around the world.

The rewards of helping people that struggle to provide their families with the basic needs that most of us take for granted are indescribable. We look forward to our trips to places like the children’s shelter in Juarez, where we see the joy in the eyes of children as we bring food, blankets, toys, and hope. So far, we have been able to fly missions by one little miracle or another, and we have the faith that we’ll be flying many more of these missions for years to come.

For more information, check out our web site, 

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©2001 Southwest Regional Publishing, Inc.