A New Era

MAF’s newest KODIAK, an amphibious floatplane, ushers in a new season of ministry in Kalimantan

 

In June, Brad Hopkins was the last MAF pilot to fly Charlie Brown and Charlie Delta, two aged Cessna 185 floatplanes, on their final flights in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. This marked the end of a historic era for MAF. Each aircraft had nearly 50 years of fruitful service on the beautiful and rugged island of Borneo where they touched countless lives.

Brad Hopkins conducts the last flight of Charlie Brown – PK-MCB, in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by Rebecca Hopkins.

There was little time for nostalgia, however, as MAF staff are busy preparing for a new aircraft—an amphibious KODIAK, PK-MEE, which will arrive in early 2018.

As the primary pilot and base manager in the city of Palangkaraya, Brad’s enthusiastic vision for MAF’s ministry is seemingly boundless as he talks about how the new aircraft will make inroads to the remaining unreached people groups in the country.

“It’ll be a new era,” said Brad. “We’ll have the KODIAK. We’re going to bring in new staff. We’re going to grow the program. It’s going to be an exciting time.”

MAF is the bridge to both overcoming physical isolation and uniting Kalimantan’s churches. The provincial capital, Palangkaraya is home to some 70,000 Christians, and there are over 50 different church denominations that tend to operate independently of one another.

Unity is key to reaching out to the two largest people groups on the island with Christ’s love. And the KODIAK floatplane can easily support Indonesian pastors and Western mission teams in these areas, as well as provide life-saving medical evacuations for people in isolated river communities.

“The KODIAK has a longer range, a faster speed; it’s more economical,” added Brad. “It can go 150 miles now on one hour of fuel versus 100 miles in the 185.”

This means the aircraft will serve a larger radius and be able to land in more places to help more people and share the love of Christ. It’s going to open up more ministry opportunities.

The amphibious KODIAK was ferried to Papua earlier this year. Once its Indonesian registration is complete, its call letters will change to PK-MEE. Photo by Matt Harris.

Brad envisions being able to take his entire Indonesian team, plus a generator and other supplies, on one KODIAK flight so they can do weekend outreach at interior villages—leading church services and showing the “JESUS” film.

Another benefit of the new aircraft is that because it has both floats and wheels, it can land on a paved runway. This opens the door for critical patients to reach better hospitals at Banjarmasin.

“Now we are able to land there again,” explained Brad. “That doesn’t have anything to do with range or carrying ability. It’s a whole different thing that we didn’t see coming. So, praise the Lord for that!”

PK-MEE will be splashing down on many of the same Borneo rivers that welcomed Charlie Brown and Charlie Delta for years. But it won’t stop there. There are more rivers to explore, and more people in remote places who still need to experience the love of Jesus.

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Story originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of FlightWatch (Vol. 5).

 

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