Two Flying Nuns Minister To Mau Mau Land Nomads

Date: February 21, 1965
Location: Dallas, TX
By: Larry Grove
Newspaper: The Dallas Morning News

Strange, but we’d never hear of the nuns in the Marianist Air Force, or how the hyenas in Kenya, East Africa, were siding with the Communists.

Until the other day.

George Haddaway, the Dallas man who publishes Flight Magazine, told us about it. A crusty man-of-action, man who knows everybody in aviation, Haddaway would do anything to prove that airplanes can do anything.

For years, Haddaway has searched for the one place in the world that a private airplane was needed most.

He found it, he said, in the Turkhana Desert north of Nairobi, where Catholic nuns of the Missionaries of Mary attend to the needs of nomadic Africans in the barren Mau Mau land.

Two nuns were taught to fly by Haddaway’s friend, Brother Mike, who happened to be visiting here at the time.

“Brother Mike is,” says Haddaway, “one helluva guy.”

Brother Mike taught science and aviation at St. Joseph’s High School in Cleveland, Ohio, until three years ago. When the U.S. space agency needed ham radio operators for a tracking station there, Brother Mike could supply 300 licensed radio operators he had taught.

When he went to Kenya to help in a rebuilding program following a famine, he found transportation the most critical problem. Trucks were unreliable in the almost impassable desert.

With donations from friends who were pilots, Brother Mike secured a Piper Cub for the mission station and taught two of the Catholic nuns to fly it. The plane magically speeded the aid they could bring. One nun was a physician, the other a nurse.

Together, with the Piper Cub, they became known as the Marianist Air Force.

But Hyenas nibbled away the plane’s fabric covering.

Apparently, the phenol in the fabric was irresistible.

A larger, all-metal private plane is being fitted for use at the station. Aviation enthusiasts are leading the movement to secure still another so some 200 or more mission stations of every Christian faith can be served by plane.

Doctors at a hospital in Tanganyika [now known as the country of Tanzania] were facing the bleak prospect of seeing their station closed for lack of patients. There had been no way to get the patients to the hospital in time to help them.

Haddaway is host here to a great many foreign visitors. Over the years, he has become convinced that our well-intended foreign aid program isn’t doing much to improve conditions outside some scattered palaces.

But private people-to-people help of sincere Americans wins friends for us, he said.

“Whether we like it or not,” said Haddaway (who is Protestant), “our Christian missionaries of every faith are our American representatives in the emerging new nations.

“The two things we have that the Communists would like to destroy first are our Peace Corps and our Christian missionaries.

“And one thing we have the Communists don’t have is private airplanes that can do any job. A privately supported United Missionary Airline will work miracles in East Africa, and it will show what can be done,” said Haddaway.

Haddaway and the flying fraternity around the country are working to get solid financing for the nonsectarian missionary airline.

And Brother Mike will return next week to Kenya to resume his teaching duties among some “surprisingly brilliant” Kenya teen-agers at Mangu Boys School north of Nairobi.

He calls them “Africa’s new breed.”

They’re winning their licenses as radio operators. And, he says, he’ll soon produce some pilots from among them.

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