Wanted: Plane For Kenya Mission

Date: October 19, 1962
Location: Seattle, WA
Newspaper: The Catholic Northwest Progress
Page: 1, 6

The airplane, one of modern mans oft-used modes of transportation, may yet service a Catholic mission in East Africa, thanks to the efforts of two laymen from the Greater Seattle area.

Transactions are now being made to purchase a Piper Super Cub plane for the mission in Kitale in Kenya. The plane, which has recorded excellent performances on land 6,000 feet above sea level, will help to transport priests and Medical Missionaries of Mary Sisters, commuting to their three mission stations.

Heading the project to purchase the plane are two pilots of Pacific Northern Airlines. They are Jerry Fay of Mercer Island and Everett (Bud) Donovan of Des Moines.

The men hope to raise some $10,000 to purchase the aircraft, plus parts and high frequency radio transmitters.

The project, being introduced in this area in cooperation with the archdiocesan office of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, has been urged by Missionary Joseph B. Houlihan of Eldoret, the Ordinary of East Africa.

Plans include the shipping of the plane from its Pennsylvania factory to New York, thence to Mombassa, the Kenyan port city.

Both Fay and Donovan will assemble it in Mombassa and fly the Cub to Kitale. The men will direct instructions on how to maintain and fly the plane at Kitale.

Both men heartily agree that those supporting them that this is indeed an ambitious project since the venture was just started a month ago.

Quickness of time still passes the pair. The plane must be ordered by November with an accompaniment of a reasonable down payment, if not the full purchase amount. They hope to have the aircraft reach Mombassa by the first week of February.

The project was a result of Fay’s acquaintance with the Medical Missionary Sisters, his knowledge of African terrain and the value of an airplane. Desiring to help the missions, the 42-year-old pilot began to discuss the possibilities with his friends.

And that’s how Donovan, 27, entered the picture.

Next was organized the Marian Medical Aircraft Fund, the proper name and recipient of all donations.

Others assisting the pair are Tom Murphy and Dr. Paul Hardy, both parishioners from Mercer Island.

“You have to sell airplanes to get the project going,” Fay said. “But it should be an interesting project.”

The Kenya mission has its main hospital in Kitale, a town of 6,000 on a plateau by Mount Elgon. A clinic is located at Lodwar, 158 air miles away or an hour and a half flying time from Kitale. Lodwar has a raising population of 7,000 tribesmen.

A new hospital is being built at Kakuma, 50 air miles away from Lodwar. Thee two outposts are in a region which was closed to Whites until August of 1961. The zone in this British Protectorate was opened partly to allow missionaries to administer to natives, Fay said.

Separating the three mission sites are the desert and arid almost waterless country.

Bishop Houlihan writes that operating a plane would be just as economical as a jeep. With airplane gas selling at 75 cents a gallon, the plane would cost some $9 per flying hour. Driving a jeep through the desert on very short trips costs some $25 to $50 depending on the weather.

Since there are no distinguishing landmarks on the desert, Fay said a radio net would have to be established between Kitale, Lodwar, Kakuma and the plane. The plane will also be equipped with ultra high frequency radio for contact with other towns.

The men will be granted leaves of absence by PNA when they leave for Africa. They will finance their own transportation.

Fay will remain with Kitale for a month. Donovan will stay three months.

A member of St. Monica’s Parish, Fay is a University of Minnesota graduate in aeronautical engineering. He has been a commercial pilot for 22 years. In 1946, he spent some commercial time in West Africa. The U.S. navy World War II veteran lives with his wife, Ruth, and five children at 4719 86th Avenue S.E. on Mercer Island.

The couple’s children are Michael, 13; Patrick, 11; Michelle, 8; Joan Marie, 3; and Allison, 10 months.

Donovan, a native of Portland, is single. An Army veteran, he lives at 3747 S. 188th Street in Des Moines. Like Fay, he has lived in the Seattle area for more than 15 years. Donovan has been flying commercially for 10 years.

Last year, Donovan’s older pilot-brother, William, was killed in an airlines crash. Donovan attributes part of his motivation in this Kenya project as a memorial to his brother.

CAPTION: A campaign in the archdiocese is now being undertaken to purchase a new Piper Super Cub airplane for a Catholic African mission in Kenya. Spearheading the drive to raise approximately $10,000 are Jerry Fay of St. Monica Parish, Mercer Island, and Everett (Bud) Donovan of St. Philomena Parish, Des Moines. Looking over some of the planes in Tacoma (from left) are Donovan; Rev. Stephen Szeman, archdiocesan director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, and Fay. The campaign is entitled Marion Medical Aircraft Fund. Purchase of the airplane is being transacted through Oswald Flying Service in Tacoma.

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