|By Carmelo Turdo|
The Aero Experience visited with Adventist World Aviation Vice President of Operations, Jud Wickwire, yesterday at the Wings of Hope World Headquarters facility. He was in St. Louis for the day to meet with Wings of Hope leadership staff and check on the aircraft. As work continued on the engine and interior of the aircraft, it was readily apparent that a Canadian registration code had been applied to the fuselage in large letters - a good sign that the end of the restoration project is in sight!
When completed, the Skywagon will join the fleet of Adventist World Aviation Canada operating from Sioux Lookout in northwest Ontario, Canada. Sioux Lookout is home to an Adventist community, a local airport, medical services and rustic tourist attractions. It is also home to some groups within the First Nations, the indigenous peoples of Canada. Air transport is the most efficient way to reach these smaller communities, and Wickwire plans to employ the aircraft initially to fly in needed technicians and education specialists more cost-effectively than can be attained through commercial or charter flights. He told The Aero Experience that there is an immediate need for health improvement and youth engagement services that can be better provided with the air transportation capabilities of the Skywagon.
The Aero Experience will continue to report on the progress of the aircraft restoration project and the acceptance of the aircraft into service with Adventist World Aviation next year.
Earlier this year, Jud Wickwire visited Wings of Hope to accept a Cessna 182, the second aircraft to be stationed in Guyana to provide medical airlift services when the other aircraft needs maintenance or when additional calls for assistance are received. "Emergencies can't wait, so that (aircraft) will bring reliability to the people in Guyana who depend on the emergency flights," Wickwire said in January. "The common thread is to support the needs of the people where they are," he continued. "We're a faith ministry of course, we do want to share the love of Jesus with the people we are introduced to. But most importantly, the first part of that is helping people survive with their emergencies, with their medical conditions, with their health, education. All of those aspects. We provide that to anyone, regardless of who they are, where they are, to help improve their life conditions." The aircraft can be seen below at Wings of Hope with fellow pilot Richard Visscher before takeoff. The original story can be found on The Aero Experience here and an update to this story can be found in this edition of Adventist World Aviation Airways Magazine.
Wings of Hope is a global humanitarian charity and aviation non-profit organization. The main objectives are delivering humanitarian programs to the poor and assisting communities in gaining self-sufficiency. The original mission of providing humanitarian aid to people in developing countries using aircraft continues, and includes significant investment in programs that address health, education, economic opportunity and food security. Basic preventative health care services are accomplished through traveling clinics. Education programs include a significant effort in Cambodia that provides after school education in English and computer classes to improve the job prospects for the students. Economic development programs include a microfinance program for women to develop businesses in Kenya and work centers in India to assist in the creation of new businesses.
In the U.S., Wings of Hope provides the Medical Relief and Air Transport (MAT) Program from its base in St. Louis. It was established in 2003 to provide access to life-saving health care within the Midwest to those who are unable to obtain or sustain transportation to specialty care facilities. This is accomplished using corporately-owned aircraft and volunteer pilots and medical staff. About 500 flights are provided annually in Wings of Hope aircraft or through the provision of commercial aircraft flights when practical. The MAT program is their largest single program measured by total resources committed.