Stuart King, a Pilot Who Survived D-Day to Help Found Mission Aviation Fellowship, Dies at 98

Image: Portrait Courtesy of Mission Aviation Fellowship
Image: Portrait Courtesy of Mission Aviation Fellowship

Stuart King, cofounder of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), has passed away at the age of 98. A Royal Air Force engineer who fought for Britain in World War II, King devoted his life after the war to taking light aircraft to the remotest parts of Africa.

King’s life and ministry were recognized by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Today, MAF flies to more than 1,400 remote locations in 26 developing countries—more destinations than the six largest airlines in the world, combined—to support more than 2,000 missionary and humanitarian aid organizations, including the United Nations Children’s Fund, World Health Organization, the Red Cross, Medair, Tearfund, and Samaritan’s Purse.

MAF-UK began in 1948, when King, who landed on Normandy on D-Day, and former RAF squadron leader Jack Hemmings flew across Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, and the country now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo. In a six-month survey, they studied how aircraft could serve humanitarian needs across the continent. The pair flew in the small Miles Gemini with just bare essentials—a map and compass.

At the end of the trip, they crash landed into a banana tree and finished their trip on foot. They were convinced, nonetheless, that airplanes would provide a great service in the region where roads were few and far between.

In 1950, King launched an MAF site in Sudan, where he met his wife, Phyllis, who was serving there as a missionary. In 1958, he flew his family on a 12-day journey there from the UK on a Cessna 180.

“We stopped at many bizarre and outlandish places along the West African coast, spending nights in strange hotels or little rest houses,” King recalled later in his book Hope Has Wings. “We’d wash the children’s nappies at night and spread them over our knees during the next day’s flight, turning on the cabin warm air to help speed the drying.”

Click here to read more.
Source: Christianity Today