The Liberty Gazette
July 6, 2010
July 6, 2010
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: My first experience with mission flying came in 2005 when I sat in the right seat of a Cessna 206 and flew over Central Africa with pilot Andy Keller, and a small crew from Answering the Call. Andy, who also works as the Chief Scheduler for AIM Air, was kind enough to let me fly from the right for most of the flight. I held a student pilot certificate then and was eager to have the experiences flying in conditions far different from what I was used to. We flew over glasslands, highlands, and deserts, trying to fly high enough above war zones to stay out of range, or avoid them altogether. There were, however, some “hot” areas along our route, an environment difficult and often dangerous.
Mike: AIM Air, part of the larger Christian ministry of Africa Inland Mission, operates a fleet of 12 aircraft in at least eight different African countries. With the main base of operations in Nairobi, Kenya, and aircraft in Uganda, and other locations, their work “enhances the ministries of evangelical missionaries, church workers, and Christian relief and development agencies in East and Central Africa, by providing air transportation to people working in Church planting, evangelism, community development, medical missions, children’s education, pastor training, emergency relief, Bible translation, short-term mission trips,” and much more. AIM Air pilots fly up to a million miles every year, serving the needs of 80 Christian organizations and hundreds of missionaries.
Aviation ministry supports the broad work of missions and the Church; the airplanes they fly are tools, “moving missionaries and cargo over some of the world’s most inhospitable terrain, to bring hope and the Good News to some of the world’s most forgotten peoples...a vehicle to help take the Great Commission to the ends of the earth.”
Almost all equipment is donated and the pilots and crew are volunteers who are financially supported by churches and individual donors in their home countries. When visiting missionaries request air service they contribute toward the minimum operating cost of the airplane they use.
Linda: Later that same year I returned to Africa, this time a newly licensed pilot, and flew right seat in a Cessna Caravan, with Mission Aviation Fellowship, another wonderful organization.
While we’re on the subject of faith and flying, Sue Halpain, of Oklahoma, wrote an aviator’s prayer last year, and read it at the start of the Okie Derby proficiency air race. It is both creative and sincere:
“Dear Lord, Lift our spirits to unexpected heights. We ask your guidance as we chart the course of our lives. Allow us to follow your flight plan and not deviate from it. Help us to follow Your regulations, remembering that the only emergency procedure is to lean on You. Teach us to keep the communication lines to You open and on the right frequency. When we face the slips and skids of life and our gyros tumble, help us to get both wings level with our turn-and-bank centered on You. May we approach each day with sensitivity and courage, and never be guilty of carelessness or neglect. But most important, Lord, keep reminding us that You are always the Pilot in Command. Amen”