MAF History

‘Hope Has Wings’ excerpt -1948 survey flight across central Africa

18th April 2018

In Stuart King’s book ‘Hope Has Wings’, MAF’s co-founder Stuart King recounts MAF’s groundbreaking 1948 survey flight across central Africa, which assessed the region’s humanitarian needs using a Miles Gemini light aircraft for the first time in history

‘Our first and longest journey, which lasted a month, took us in a great loop of 3,000 miles from Nairobi in East Africa across the huge expanse of the Congo to now present-day Kinshasa, then back by a more northerly route.

‘After that we flew initially into the more isolated parts of Kenya and north-west to Arua in Uganda. From there we made a detailed exploration of north-east Congo before flying a further 500 miles to French Equatorial Africa where we visited some of the remotest places in the continent. Finally we went south into Rwanda and Burundi, planning to return to Nairobi before we tackled the last phase: a survey of Tanganyika (present-day Tanzania).

‘During each visit we faithfully worked through our set questionnaires. Apart from that, we saw, as we travelled, the dramatic differences in landscape and climate. We began to realise some of the problems of operating in the bush and, incidentally, also discovered how inadequate and unreliable many of the maps then available were.

Landscape of the Congo

‘The responses of missionaries to our ideas were extremely varied: some enthusiastic, some cautious, some quite dismissive. The reactions of Africans to the plane varied too, especially where they’d never seen one before.’

Excerpt taken from MAF co-founder Stuart King’s book Hope Has Wings’