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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedFly For Life: Profiles in Caring

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Gene Jordan, EAA 869244, of the Mission Aviation Fellowship

Type/model aircraft operated in mission or public benefit flying?
Where is most of your flying activity?

Missionary aviation for 22 years in Ecuador, South America.

We had seven aircraft (Cessna 185s and 206s) and enabled flights for the following purposes:

Health Care

  • Emergency air ambulance
  • Preventative health training in the communities
  • Vaccination programs throughout the jungle

Community development

  • Personnel and supplies to build approximately 40 schools in jungle communities
  • School teachers in/out throughout the school year
  • Well digging to provide clean water to communities

Mission/church flights

  • Provided transportation and communication, logistics for more than 20 mission/church organizations (Literacy, Bible translation, Church establishment, Leadership Training

Government support-Upon request we flew

  • Provincial health workers
  • Provincial governors
  • Federal citizen and election officials

When did you become involved in mission or public benefit flying and why?
I learned of Mission Aviation Fellowship as a young child. Throughout my high school years I was challenged to use my life to effect change for the positive in others' lives through the use of aviation. I joined MAF in 1977 and continue to work for/with them.

What is the most memorable flight you have ever had and why?
I flew upward of 20,000 flights. Most have been forgotten, yet there are a few that stick out. One of the more memorable involved a return to "home base" with an empty airplane. We never flew the airplanes empty!

I took off from a dirt airstrip near the Peruvian border, looking forward to an hour-and-a-half flight home with no pax, cool at comfortable at 8,500 feet.

Halfway home I received a radio call to pick up a patient at an airstrip near the community of Canusa. Canusa was a one-way, undulating, slippery strip; not one of my favorites.

I landed, spun the airplane around at the "top" of the strip, and prepared the plane for the patient. Much to my surprise - I had expected an adult patient - the local health promoter walked out of the jungle with a recently born, premature baby.

Now if you were to fly with me, I would buckle you in to our four-point restraint belts, show you how to lock the door and where the first aid kit and "barf-bags" were. But what do you do with a brand new baby?

I cut several young banana leaves with my trusty Swiss Army knife and lined the bottom of a woven basket with them. I tied the basket to the seat beside me and gently placed the baby on the bed of leaves.

This time I did not climb to 8,500 feet, I sped home just above the tree tops. I watched as this precious child struggled to breath. I looked in wonder at her tiny little fingers and toes.

An ambulance from the mission hospital was waiting and the baby was whisked to an incubator, where she spent the first 30 days. She spent another month with a mission family before she was ready to return to her mother in the jungle, and I pulled the lucky straw to fly her home.

This time the whole community was waiting while I landed on that challenging airstrip.

I don't care if you are a white mother, a black mother, a brown mother or a green mother! A mom is a mom and I will never forget the look on this young mother's face as I handed her baby to her. The ability to have radio communications to connect the community with the hangar and an airplane and pilot willing to live and operate in difficult Amazon conditions was, in this case, priceless.

I will never forget this flight because in 1952 I was born prematurely and spent the first month of my life in an incubator. Appropriate health care saved me. Years later I was able to be a part of a team that "flies 4 life" to help this young lady.

What would you like EAA members to know about the type of flying you do?
Aviation plays a critical role in the "care and feeding" of thousands of people who live in some of the most remote areas of the world. Small, single engine aircraft, such as the Cessna 185 and 206, and larger aircraft such as the Cessna Caravan and the recently-certified Quest Kodiak have a significant part in lifting the standard of living, health care and education for people that live far from the beaten path.

Why is the Fly For Life program important to EAA AirVenture 2009 attendees?
To help them understand the impact that small aircraft have worldwide in caring for people and to challenge them to participate with us.

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