Angel to Flying Nuns

Date: March 1, 1974
Location: Springfield, MO
By: Bob Considine
Newspaper: The Springfield News-Leader
Page: 20

The world seems so oppressively vile … and then you run into a fellow like George Haddaway, and you want to give it one more chance. He’s the publisher of “Flight” magazine.

Ten years ago I wrote a piece about him that went like this:

“Hyenas have joined the Soviets in attacking Christianity. The wild animals attack and eat the fabric of the little Piper Cub owned by the St. Patrick’s Missionary Society and the Medical Missionaries of Mary. The plane is the missionaries’ main hope of tending their desperately stricken flock of 15,000 scattered Turkhana Desert nomads in Northwest Kenya.

“The Cub now has more patches than a bum’s pants. It suffered further woe recently when, with Father Ryan at the controls, it pranged a banana orchard.

* * *

“These intrepid souls need a new plane, one big enough to carry food and medicine to destitute and roadless regions, powerful enough to take off from make shift strips with sick tribespeople in need of hospital care, and simple enough to be flown by the priests and nuns concerned. Their “parish” measures 30,000 miles.

“A good Protestant friend of theirs, George E. Haddaway, publisher of Flight magazine, has broken a company rule by appealing to private plane owners among his readers to chip in, tax deductible enough to buy the missionaries one of Cessna’s new Super Skywagons (Hyena proof, because it has a metal skin). The cost of a good bush pilot to instruct these great people in the use and maintenance of the single-engined plane is included in the funds drive.

“If you want to be part of it, the address is St. Patrick’s Missionary Society, c/o Bill Edwards or Joe Fabick, 2319 Hampton, St. Louis, Mo., 63139. The missionaries will put a word in for you each night. Reception is said to be very good from Kenya.”

Well, George came through town the other day with the inspiring news that the “Wings of Hope” air force now numbers 26 planes and they are spread around many underdeveloped countries. Their pilots are nuns of the remarkable Medical Missionaries of Mary, brothers and priests of St. Patrick’s Missionary Society, and hard bush pilots.

Here’s an excerpt from one of the missionary pilot’s messages from darkest Guatemala:

“Had a pleasant experience Tuesday. A normal planeload … the Ixcan consists of one family. Usually about 300-400 pounds of luggage (all their worldly possessions), and four to six people (including babies).

“Also Tuesday, I took a little sick boy about two years old from Dolores to Quiche. He must have been pretty sick because he was completely limp and cried the whole trip in. Unfortunately, he died Thursday. He had spinal meningitis, and it was too late to help him.

“Wednesday, I took four sick people to Quiche on one flight. They just seemed to pop out of nowhere that one flight. I had taken a new family into Xalbal and was going to take coffee to Hue Hue Tanango on the return trip, when a mother and father came up with their son, who had cut himself in a very unmentionable place. It looked kind of bad, so I took the boy and took off for Buenos Aires (a Guatemalan town, of course, not the Argentine capital), a 3-minute flight, where there was one person waiting to go to Quiche.”

Haddaway has practically made this sort of thing his life’s work. He taps plane owners and non-plane owners alike, to provide tax-free gifts with which to buy the more than two dozen additional planes he has been requested to supply to a wanting world. He says:

“Would you believe a Skywagon operating in East African deserts can compress a year’s grueling land travel into two or three weeks of flying time?

“Flying accomplishments such as these are easily understood by airmen but what grabs even the most seasoned of aviation folk is the tremendous number of these documented human dramas being enacted daily all over the world by flying missionaries in modern general aviation airplanes, most of which are made in America.”

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