Friday, December 11, 2020

Miracle Air Crew Visits Wings of Hope Prior to Establishing Base in Nicaragua

By Carmelo Turdo
Wings of Hope hosted a crew from Canada-based Miracle Air earlier this week at their world headquarters in St. Louis. Miracle Air pilots Norman Hansen and Andrew Hosford, along with our friend and fellow humanitarian pilot Jud Wickwire, met with Wings of Hope Director of Programs and Evaluation Tiffany Nelson on Monday as they prepared for the next phase of their deployment to Nicaragua. The aircraft will remain at Wings of Hope until they complete the administrative process required to relocate to their new base of operations.

"The region that we are interested in serving is the entire Atlantic coastline, called the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua," Hansen told The Aero Experience. "We will be based in a little town called Pearl Lagoon. There are very few roads, so the only way to reach these communities right now is on the water." He explained that an aircraft on floats is a necessity, and that flying turns a five or more hour boat ride into a 45-minute flight. Lives will be saved, and communities sustained, through the humanitarian service of Miracle Air. 

(L-R) Tiffany Nelson, Norman Hansen, Jud Wickwire  
and Andrew Hosford
Miracle Air plans to provide emergency medical flights, health and wellness clinics and disaster relief services along with ministry to communities along the waterways. Under normal conditions, this would be a significant challenge. But last month two category four hurricanes made landfall in this same area, leaving massive flooding and devastation in their wake. The need for immediate humanitarian assistance is therefore more acute now than ever, and so establishing a base of operations with the float-equipped aircraft is a high priority. Miracle Air is working with Wings of Hope to complete the deployment of plane and crew as soon as next month.

Miracle Air has acquired the aircraft they believe will be ideal for the mission: a 2005 Found Aviation Bush Hawk XP. Purposely designed as a bush plane by Found Aircraft Canada, the Bush Hawk provides excellent utility service in remote locations. The Bush Hawk seats five passengers, or with the rear seats removed, provides room for a stretcher or a large cargo capacity. There are no external wing struts, and oversized cargo doors allow easy loading on a flat cabin floor. The Bush Hawk can operate on the amphibious floats (water and land operations) and can be converted back to conventional landing gear if desired. This particular aircraft is equipped with a Lycoming O-540 300hp engine and has only about 650 hours on the airframe. 

Below are photos of the Bush Hawk from Monday's visit, and a video interview with Norman Hansen:

The Miracle Air crew will return to Wings of Hope in January when they begin their deployment to Nicaragua, and The Aero Experience will continue our coverage when they arrive back in St. Louis. We encourage our audience to support their mission to Nicaragua through their website's Giving page. We thank the Miracle Air crew and Wings of Hope for participating in this story.

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