|By Carmelo Turdo|
This week marks the beginning of a new era of humanitarian service for an aircraft that has already contributed to the academic and moral development of a group of high school students over the past year. The Cessna 182, a workhorse of relief organizations around the world, left the Wings of Hope hangar at Spirit of St. Louis Airport Tuesday afternoon and began the first leg of a trip to its new base in Mabaruma, Guyana. There it will be used mostly for medical evacuation flights, transporting critically ill or injured patients from remote villages to medical facilities in the capital city of Georgetown. The launching of this mission to Guyana, with this aircraft, is yet another great Midwest Aviation success story.
The Aero Experience visited the Wings of Hope facility Tuesday morning for the blessing of the aircraft, crew and mission, officiated by West County Seventh-Day Adventist Church Pastor Ken Olin, which occurred immediately following the regular staff and volunteer meeting. The Cessna 182 appeared in the blue and yellow paint scheme of Adventist World Aviation (AWA), the Wings of Hope partner operating in Guyana, and sported modifications to enable safe flight operations from remote areas. This aircraft is the fourth provided by Wings of Hope to Adventist World Aviation, with another on the way soon, strengthening the bond of cooperation between them.
|Pastor Ken Olin (center) prays for blessing of plane and crew|
The flight crew, AWA Vice President of Operations Jud Wickwire, and long-time friend and pilot, engineering firm owner Richard Visscher, were joined by Pastor Ken Olin and Wings of Hope President and CEO, Bret Heinrich, for a media briefing following the blessing.
(L-R) Pastor Ken Olin, AWA VP Operations Jud Wickwire,
Wings of Hope President and CEO Bret Heinrich and
Pilot Richard Visscher
|Pastor Olin and Jud Wickwire|
Wings of Hope President and CEO, Bret Heinrich, reviewed the plane's recent history and its role in educating students in a high school STEM project group. "The Cessna 182 came to Wings of Hope as part of a project to encourage aviation among school-age students. We worked with Experience Aviation, run by a member of our Honorary Council, Barrington Irving, the youngest African-American pilot to circumnavigate the world, and he has a passion for educating children. That, combined with our know-how at Wings of Hope and our dedication to mission, brought us together...Students in Lancaster, Texas came together with us, embarked on a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) project to understand how a plane goes together, how it runs. Many students found a home in aviation as a result of this project. And now, the fruit of their labor, this plane, will be put into service in Guyana, where it will serve many, many people through our partnership with AWA." More on this project can be found in a previous story, "Wings of Hope Contributes Missionary Airplane for STEM Project," on The Aero Experience.
Jud Wickwire and Richard Visscher prepared the aircraft for the first leg of the flight, carefully packing their luggage and supplies to be flown to Guyana. They had originally planned to fly out on Wednesday, but the aircraft was packed and cleared to leave the hangar at about 3pm Tuesday afternoon. Here are some views of the day's activities:
The aircraft was fueled and ready for takeoff, with engine start at 3:40pm and takeoff at around 3:50pm:
The Aero Experience team wishes Jud Wickwire and Richard Visscher a safe flight and blessings in their future mission endeavors. We also thank the leadership, staff and volunteers at Wings of Hope for their outstanding work on this and many other projects and for their warm hospitality during our visits.