Date: July 19, 1981
Location: Lancaster, PA
Newspaper: Sunday News
He was their link to the outside world. And he was their hope.
In 1979, Roy Johnsen took a leave of absence, without pay, from his Federal Aviation Administration job to do something he felt was more meaningful. He volunteered his piloting skills to fly for “Wings of Hope,” a nonprofit organization providing air services for the needy in underdeveloped regions around the world. And he left the comfort of his Albany, N.Y., home for the jungles of Honduras.
“Directions,” the ABC News Emmy Award-winning religious and cultural affairs program, will report on the sacrifices and rewards experienced by Johnsen when it presents “Missionary,” Sunday, July 19 at 1:30 p.m., on the ABC Television Network.
Johnsen, a former Navy pilot in Korea and Vietnam, literally served as the lifeline for natives in the isolated Patuca Valley in Honduras. He ferried in food, medical supplies and other essentials not obtainable in the jungle and ferried out crops. The natives, using primitive tools, carved a short landing strip out of the jungle to accommodate Johnsen’s light aircraft. Johnsen also used his plane to fly the sick to the nearest hospital, a short 20 minute flight over the mountains, which would normally take 12 hours by four-wheel drive or one week by burro.
Johnsen’s story is one of tremendous personal sacrifice and dedication. “Missionary” was produced in cooperation with the National Council of Churches.