A fuel crisis threatens missions in Papua New Guinea

By October 24, 2005

Papua New Guinea (MNN) — Airplanes are an essential part of missions work in Papua New Guinea. But, because of a fuel crisis around the world, that work is in jeopardy. A highly refined gasoline known as Avgas is expensive and in short supply. This is the fuel that goes into many missionary airplanes.

Wycliffe Associates President Bruce Smith says there are fewer planes using it and fewer refineries producing it. “The fleets of airplanes that are serving airplanes that are serving missionaries in remote places around the world, that are designed to run on this kind of fuel are no longer able to find this kind of fuel. So, we’re in the process of helping convert these fleets by buying newer airplanes that run off of less expensive and more available jet fuel.”

The new airplane they’re looking at is the Kodiak, a new aircraft specifically designed for missionary use. Well known aircraft designer, Tom Hamilton designed the aircraft. “He’s worked closely with all of the aviation entities that are working in remote places around the world including JAARS and Mission Aviation Fellowship. And, he’s got a tremendous design. It’s in the final stages of certification. They expect production to really start in early 2006.”

While these airplanes are expensive, one Kodiak can replace two or three aircraft because it has more payload and passengers, but doesn’t require longer runways. Smith says Wycliffe Associates is raising money for this project now. “They’ve actually got a matching program right now as well, where part of the funding for these airplanes that are going to be in mission use will be matched by a foundation that they have made connection with. So, it’s a unique opportunity for people to double their investment.”

Smith says if they don’t make this conversion, it will be devastating for Bible translation in Papua New Guinea. “Basically, Bible translation will come to a standstill in these kinds of locations. The geography is such that it really is impossible in any practical sense to reach the tribes that are still in need of Bible translation without air transportation.”

If you’d like to help fund these new airplanes, click on the link above to get connect.

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