Date: March 1976
By: Sandra Lapsley
Magazine: The 99 News
As a charitable organization, The Ninety-Nines are always on the lookout for worthy, aviation-oriented causes; and the St. Louis based WINGS OF HOPE is an airborne humanitarian mission to the forgotten people in the remote corners of the world. Through the media of aircraft and radio communications, the organization brings hope to the sick, injured and starving in areas where help might otherwise arrive too late. Its mission is truly one of life and death. And its continued existence depends solely on the support of organizations such as ours and the tax deductible donations of individuals such as you and me.
WINGS OF HOPE has long been of interest to me, 1 having written much of its promotional material while in the employ of Tom P. Gordon, one of its staunchest supporters. The organization also enjoys the backing of aviation notables such as George Haddaway, founder and publisher of FLIGHT magazine, who recently retired to serve as the organization’s full-time board chairman; Max Conrad; astronaut Neil Armstrong; Paul J. Rodgers of Ozark Airlines; Mrs. Henry Timken, Jr.; Robert Chatley of Rockwell International; John C. Mosby of Sky Print ; the Airline Pilots Association; general aviation manufacturers and our own President Pat McEwen. It is indeed a worthwhile charity and one which we hope each Ninety-Nine will support through monetary contributions or the donation of used aircraft and equipment. The ad on our inside back cover has been donated to Wings of Hope by Ninety-Nine News, and we hope you will, in turn, show your support through mailing your contribution to Mr. William D. Edwards, Executive Vice President, Wings of Hope, 2319 Hampton Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri 63139.
WING OF HOPE had its beginnings in 1962, when a missionary named Houlihan, just returned to St. Louis from 20 years of service at a remote medical mission in the Turkhana desert of Kenya, poured out his story of drought, suffering and death to a manufacturer’s representative named Bill Edwards.
The mission, at that time, had a Piper Super Cub, donated by two airline pilots and flown by Sister Michael Therese, but it was often inoperable, due to the affinity of hyenas for its fabric covering. The only solution to supplying the area with needed drugs, food and medical care, Houlihan felt, was a metal airplane.
To procure such an aircraft, Houlihan and Edwards enlisted the support of Joe Fabick, a construction equipment distributor, George Haddaway and Paul Rodgers. Fabick laboriously engaged in bartering for, repairing and selling used boats, trucks, cars, generators and airplanes, while Haddaway, Rodgers and Edwards set about creating the legal entity “Wings of Hope”.
At last, funds were procured to purchase the specially equipped Cessna Skywagon which Houlihan felt would fill the area’s transportation needs. And in April, 1965, the “all-metal miracle”, piloted by Max Conrad, was delivered to the Turkhana desert.
Immediately, requests for more miracles began pouring in from all over the world. An aircraft was soon produced for a sponsoring mission in Peru, another for New Guinea, then for Guatemala, Surinam, New Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and the far reaches of Canada and Alaska.
Today, WINGS OF HOPE, staffed primarily by volunteers, and its planes carry doctors and teachers to all parts of the globe; fly the sick and injured to hospitals and supply food and medicine to people struck by earthquakes, floods and other disasters. More than 95% of the funds donated to the group have gone to supplying aircraft, technical assistance and support. The organization offers its help to any legitimate humanitarian enterprise, without charge, regardless of affiliation.
Emphasis is placed upon supplying the right plane for the mission involved, be it float plane, light twin or utility single. Also, WINGS OF HOPE supplies technically trained professionals to fly and maintain the equipment or train others to do so.
As it enters its second decade of service, WINGS OF HOPE is reaching for ever further miracles, including the parachuting of emergency aid to those regions where even its aircraft can not penetrate. But the real miracle of WINGS OF HOPE lies not so much in its airplanes and equipment; it lies in the fact that a handful of people have had the dedication to turn a single request for a metal airplane into a worldwide humanitarian mission. Won’t you, too, lend hope a hand?