Plane Tours Benefit Inaccessible Areas in Africa

Date: October 24, 1986
Location: Kingston, Canada
By: Ellie Barton
Newspaper: The Kingston Whig-Standard
Page: 6

To Africans in the isolated villages of Zaire, the sound of an Air Service Freedom plane means relief from hunger, frustration and pain.

Kingston residents are being asked to help that sound – and those effects – continue.

Guy Gervais, a pilot for Air Service Freedom, will be at Norman Rogers Airport tomorrow and Sunday to offer aerial sight-seeing tours for $12 a person.

The money raised will help support two six-passenger Cessna planes and three pilots in Zaire, where Air Service Freedom provides transportation services for development projects in education, agriculture, health and evangelism.

Grants from the Canadian International Development Organization will treble the funds raised, Gervais said in a recent interview from the Montreal headquarters of the non-profit organization.

The planes are needed to transport supplies and services into areas that are inaccessible by road, Gervais explained.

“Zaire is a central African country with a population of 33 million.

“But communications outside the two largest cities (Kinshasa and Kinsagani) are virtually nil.

“There is no road system. A three-day walk to the hospital with a sick person on a stretcher is not unusual”

Airstrips carved out of the jungle by native volunteers facilitate access by plane in many villages, Gervais said.

In areas where landing is impossible, supplies such as food, medicine and school materials are dropped from the air.

A major goal of Air Service Freedom, Gervais said, is to encourage villagers to become self-sufficient.

One recent project involved the planting of 15,000 palm trees with seedlings flown in by Air Service Freedom. The oil from the nuts is used in cooking and in the production of laundry soap.

Air Service Freedom, which was founded in March 1984, is modeled on a 14-year-old American organization called Wings of Hope.

Both organizations work closely with government , religious communities, aviation companies, service clubs and volunteers to promote development in Central America and Africa.

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