The phones started ringing earlier than usual one morning as we were commuting to the office in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). “We have 50 people we need to get out,” said a humanitarian aid worker. “We’re looking at approximately 110 people that may need to be evacuated,” said another caller, an embassy staff member. This would not be a normal day.
Emergency recurrent training is part of life as a pilot, and we frequently test our skills and memories to make sure we’re ready for the unexpected. As MAF, it is actually our business to handle emergency situations, and people count on us being there when they are in need. That is why we are often the first call when a crisis happens.
The situation that day was major civil unrest in the city of Bangui. Security evacuation flights and logistics were needed near the Central African Republic (CAR) and DR Congo border. We sprang into action with countless phone calls and emails to help coordinate the efforts. We proved yet again that our greatest asset may not be our million dollar aircraft but our vast network of contacts which can bring people together without even turning a propeller.
Sadly, there were local deaths related to the violence, but we are very fortunate that all the people included in the evacuations were able to escape without physical harm. They were thankful for their lives and for MAF being able to play a part in saving them.
When we completed two flights for World Vision, getting a total of nine of their staff to safe locations, the country director messaged me, saying, “Thankful for MAF helping evacuate our CAR team!”
There truly is no reward better than that. Thank you for partnering with us in the vital ministry of Mission Aviation Fellowship.