UMATT Newsletter – Number 1 – October 1965

See Original Newsletter
See Original Newsletter


Letter of July 22, 1965, from Bishop Joseph B. Houlihan (St. Patrick’s Missionary
Society) written from Eldoret, Kenya.

“… Words are empty to express my sincerest gratitude to all the greathearted folks who have brought into existence such a wonderful progressive organization — UMATT. Its achievements and its practical results over here are away beyond all expectations … so much so that overnight, as it were, all the bishops of Kenya have become ‘airrminded’. Its Ecumenical value is already being felt in a wide and rapidly widening circle. Already UMATT has brought unthinkable coordination and efficiency to missionary endeavor not only in Turkhana Desert but also in the three territories i.e. Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya … That operation which would have taken a minimum of one week and untold hardship, was accomplished in less than twenty-four hours – all thanks to UMATT … Brother Michael is doing a great job … The Lord of the harvest must certainly reward you all a hundred fold for this work. The missionaries of this Diocese, particularly the missionaries and people of Turkhana are, and will be daily storming heaven on your behalf … Again, sincerest gratitude and good wishes to all the magnanimous members of UMATT … Joseph B. Houlihan, Bishop of Eldoret Diocese, Kenya, East Africa.”

Letter of June 17, 1965, from Max Conrad written in Nairobi, Kenya, (Max Conrad was recently named the winner of the 1965 Harmon Aviation Trophy. Max Conrad delivered the first Cessna 206 aircraft for UMATT to Brother Mike Stimac, the UMATT East African Pilot and Director in Nairobi.)

“… My African safari is about over. So many things — and some sad ones, too … A few nights ago I stayed at a mission out in the desert, where so many of the natives are starving. It was the night of the full moon. Far away I could hear a baby or child crying. I followed the sound and two or three blocks into the open desert found a coal-black baby, maybe 1 1/2 or 2 years old — not a stitch on him (it was a ‘him’). His arms and legs looked like toothpicks. His head and belly oversized, and even at night I could see the whites of his eager eyes as I walked to him and picked him up. He clung to me close and warm with his arms and legs, and put his head close against me. On this trip I had an audience with Pope Paul VI, and he was so ‘inspiring’, but this native child, clinging to me so desperately, was the closest I’ve been to Heaven for a long, long time. I carried him to the mission and handed him over to Sister Michael (from Boston and a flying nun), who fed him and put him to sleep in a strange bed. She said this was not an infrequent experience. Some of the little fellows are even dead when they find them and sometimes half eaten by animals. She said they would feed this one and care for him, and when he is well and stronger they would try to find the parents. If not, he’d stay on and grow up with the rest of the kids — 400 or 500 of them whom they care for … Let’s Fly! Max Conrad.”

At least 300 press clippings appeared in newspapers throughout the United States, Ireland, Italy, Ethiopia, Egypt and East Africa telling about UMATT. Perhaps the best headline which any of the articles featured is the one which follows: “KENYA: INTER-FAITH PLAN PUTS PLANES. AT SERVICE OF ALL MISSIONARIES AND SOCIAL WORKERS”.

We remind you that June issue (1965) of FLIGHT MAGAZINE featured a 3-page article by Mrs. Ruth Taksel entitled “Miracle in the Desert” presenting the story of UMATT and the operation in the Turkhana Desert.


“… One thing is for sure: UMATT will never disappear any more. It is too revolutionary a concept — which has knocked the props out from other slower methods of transportation and certain bigoted attitudes … Time magazine and NBC-TV are interested in going up into the Turkhana Desert to cover the story there … The month of July ended up with 139 hours and 12 minutes aloft. Some days I flew 11 1/2 hours. The Reverend Stanley Booth-Cliblourne of the Anglican Church told me yesterday in Mbeya (southern Tanganyika), ‘Mike, UMATT is becoming a legend in East Africa!’ … Comments from UMATT passengers during July included the following: ‘This is the most wonderful thing that ever happened in the African missions’ … ‘UMATT has done more for Ecumenism than the Vatican Council thought possible to do’ … ‘the greatest aspect of the UMATT program is its Inter-Faith emphasis based on priority need’ … A glance at the log book shows that since June 13th when UMATT made its first local flight in East Africa some of the entries read: ‘Dar Salaam to the Congo border to Nairobi — 9 hours.’ … Another date adds up to 10 hours 31 minutes going from mid Tananyika to the Indian Ocean and back again, then up to the desert edge and back into Nairobi … For 16 days we’ve had 6 passengers aboard, another 8 times we have had 5 passengers each trip. The cargo pack is crammed and extra suitcases ride in the cabin with the passengers! The stall horn comes on a 90 miles per hour with these loads but what an airplane! Grateful UMATT passengers give profuse thanks as they tell what 14 hours of difficult land rover traveling (including up to a week of travel making connections) was saved by only 3 or 4 hours of Sky-wagoning in the UMATT Cessna … By the time August is over UMATT will have logged in more than 300 hours in East African missionary support …”

Excerpts from several editorials written by GEORGE E. HADDAWAY, publisher of FLIGHT MAGAZINE

“… We can’t think of a more worthy cause. The need is desperate. Only a plane can solve the transport problem in this remote, afflicted area … We are reminded of the exhortation of Pope John XXIII, who said: “Do not allow the enjoyment of earthly goods to render our heart insensible to the poor, the sick, the orphans, and these innumerable brothers of ours who still lack the minimum that is necessary in order to eat, to cover their naked limbs, to gather their family under a single roof.’ … This nation has neglected the use of small planes and helicopters as useful tools in our foreign assistance program. Here is an area of enterprise wherein the communist countries are unable to compete with us … There are two outfits the commies want to get rid of in the remote areas — our Christian missionaries such as those who will be served in Kenya by airlift, and the Peace Corps. These are effective person-to-person operations and recipients of that kind of aid can not be hoodwinked by communist propaganda … We are firmly convinced the kind of aviation program to be supervised by Brother Mike Stimac can do more to stem the tide of communism in Africa than any other one project. We do not believe there is any foreign aid program as powerful or as desperately needed as those now linking modern medicine with the modern lightplane. There is plenty of proof for this tenet … It’s the lightplane and the lightplane only that can support the far-flung outposts of Western civilization as proved by FDS and UMATT …”


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