by Phil and Ellen Koop
2020 is the year of COVID, quarantines, working from home, financial struggles, health problems, loss of loved ones and all sorts of turmoil. As we come to the end of this year, many of us have stories of disappointments, missed opportunities, and intense grief from our losses, but we also have stories of God’s faithfulness and his abundant provision. Here is our story:
During this pandemic, God is still working, still sovereign and still owns the cattle on a thousand hills.
For several years, we have asked you to pray for aircraft for our Ethnos360 Aviation flight program overseas. We use these aircraft to fly church planting missionaries into the remote jungle locations where they take the gospel to indigenous people who have never heard the good news of Jesus Christ. We get requests from indigenous people on a regular basis to bring them the “talk that brings new life.”
We shared with you our leap of faith starting in 2014 as God provided three Kodiak aircraft for Papua New Guinea, two Robinson helicopters for the Philippines, and recently one Robinson R66 helicopter for Brazil. We were so excited that the Brazil R66 started flying the first week of February, but due to COVID travel restrictions we had to discontinue flight service in that country until just recently.
God also provided three R66 helicopters for Papua New Guinea! The first one arrived October 7, 2020, at Ethnos360 Aviation in McNeal, AZ. We were speechless when a donor called in June with the news that he wanted to donate enough to purchase the first one. During COVID and economic losses no less!
It couldn’t have been better timing! The day before it landed at our facility, our training helicopter ran out of time. Once Robinson helicopters have reached a limit of so many hours or so many years of flight service, we must take them completely apart and rebuild them to restart the clock. The new R66 arrived just in time to allow our newest helicopter pilots to continue right on schedule toward completing their training. The timing is especially important for our Brazilian pilot here for helicopter training. He needs to continue flying so he can complete his training before his US visa runs out.
While our current class of mechanics was dismantling and overhauling the training helicopter—and learning lots in the process—the new R66 was hard at work as the temporary trainer. Our pilots needed to put it through its paces before it can be crated and shipped to Papua New Guinea. This also gives them the required flight experience before they themselves go to their country of service.
Soon after the new year, when our R66 trainer is back in the air, we will start the process of taking the new helicopter apart and crating it up for its trip to PNG.
In addition to providing this aircraft at just the right moment, God also provided a Kodiak flight simulator that arrived a couple weeks ago to assist us in training our Kodiak pilots. The Kodiaks are the only fixed wing aircraft we currently fly overseas. Since we do not have one in McNeal to train in, this simulator will go a long way in preparing our fixed wing pilots for service in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
What a prayer-answering God we serve!
Phil and Ellen Koop (Kleefeld) serve in Arizona with Ethnos360 Aviation.