Mozambique emerged devastated from centuries
of colonial neglect and three decades of civil war. In 1995 it ranked as
the poorest nation on the planet. Only 42% of its 20 million people can
read. Most live below the poverty line and are dead by 37.
Missionaries and aid workers try to reach the most destitute people, but they face immense obstacles. Communications are unavailable outside major cities. Overland travel reaches only a fraction of the country. Mountains cover western Mozambique and thousands of square miles of swamp and wetlands make the east totally impassable. Weather extremes plague the country. Typhoons off the Indian Ocean flood the land then drought withers the remaining crops. Famine, starvation and disease decimate the population. Even the hardiest missionaries get discouraged and the attrition rate is high.
Then, MAF responded to the call for help. We began providing air transportation for missions and relief agencies using a Cessna 206. This workhorse serves organizations such as the Summer Institute of Linguistics, currently working on 9 bible translations; the Southern Baptists who support 100 national evangelists and 1000 pastors; and the Halo Trust, which clears and disposes of thousands of land mines. The 206 brought welcome improvement. However, due to the expansive territory covered by the MAF program in Mozambique, it is more efficient to use a faster plane. Every minute matters for patients on air ambulance flights and for aid personnel rushing food and supplies to starving families.
So, the vision was born to add a faster aircraft that could still enter most of the same short, rough strips. The obvious choice was a Cessna 210. It looks a lot like the 206, but with important differences. It uses the same engine, but the wheels of the landing gear retract to eliminate drag. The 206 flies at 138 mph. The 210 races at 195 mph. An 800-mile trip along the length of Mozambique requires over 6 hours in a 206 including a gas stop. The 210 makes the same trip in just over 4 hours, non-stop. This translates not only to time saved, but a reduction in cost to the organizations and individual users served as well.
On April 8th Dave LePoidevin flew 9Q-CMQ (the 210's registration number) from Nelspruit, South Africa to Nampula, Mozambique in only 4 1/2 hours, non-stop so that it could begin its MAF service. The very next day it flew its first missionary passengers from Nampula, Mozambique to Mombassa, Kenya - again in only 4 hours, non-stop.
A few days later MAF flew a World Vision worker with acute malaria from Quelimane, Mozambique all the way to the closest help for this dangerous disease - in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since then, the "Fast One" (as the pilots call it) has made many flights for missionaries, critically ill patients and relief workers. Each day MAF pilots thank the Lord for providing this tool to serve His church and the hurting people of Mozambique.