Mission Aviation Fellowship marks 50th year in Canada

ECA Review/D. Nadeau
Written by ECA Review



Participating to make a Prairie College aviation open house welcome were Lowell Deering, Vice President, Mission Aviation Fellowship; Dallas Derksen, Managing Director of Prairie College Aviation, and Kayla Stassen, a Prairie student who recently completed her commercial pilot training and is soon to start multi-engine certification. ECA Review/D. Nadeau

To appreciate the celebration at the Three Hills Airport, you had to like small airplanes, missionary pursuits, free chocolate cake, and Jesus.

That and much more filled the better part of the Sat. June 24 open house as Ontario-based Mission Aviation Fellowship Canada (MAF) and Prairie College’s Aviation Training Center marked MAF’s 50th year in Canada.

The event not only emphasized the long-standing partnership between the two evangelical organizations, it started a MAF–Prairie Aviation $5 million fundraiser that would double the 31-year-old school’s facility and hopefully, double the number of Three Hills graduates qualifying for flight service around the world.

“Right now,” said MAF rep Richard Marples, “the global shortage of mission pilots can’t meet the growing need for mercy and outreach services in unreached and isolated communities.

Our planes provide medical care, supplies, staff and hope, but we just can’t keep up to the demand.”

While Prairie’s flight training is not exactly a senior citizen, with a full complement of 30 students and six airplanes in the two-year diploma program, Marples described Prairie’s one building as “bursting at the seams.”

As a separate building, the new MAF-initiated facility will provide more classrooms and training space and eliminate the winter hassle of chilling the maintenance shop when the hangar door opens to move aircraft in or out. There will be one building for maintenance, another as a hanger.

MAF VP Operations Lowell Deering expressed appreciation for Prairie’s side of the partnership that sees student pilots get a firm biblical foundation to complement MAF’s technical and flight training.

“There is no shortage of opportunities in mission aviation service,” he said, “so we need to see the fundraising campaign succeed.”

The present facility is 12,000 square feet with the new building anticipated at 14,000 square feet.

“We are well into the planning stage,” said Deering, “so decisions about classrooms, flight operations and student services have yet to be determined.”

In a phone interview from North Battleford, Sask., Prairie aviation school founder Dean Covert remembers the program in its infancy.

“Back then,” he said, “we always envisioned the program would move forward. It’s really exciting to hear that the goal is to double the number of graduating pilots.”

David Nadeau ECA Review

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