MAF History

‘Hope Has Wings’ excerpt: Supporters have always been key to MAF’s success

4th September 2017

In Stuart King’s book ‘Hope Has Wings’, it’s clear that supporters have always enabled MAF. From regular givers to huge sponsors, the church has been an integral part of MAF. Without the Mildmay Movement who funded MAF’s first aircraft or the thousands of donors since, serving the world’s most isolated people simply wouldn’t be possible

New Zealander Murray Kendon – an RAF pilot who served during World War II – had the vision to use aircraft to support overseas mission. But it was Dr Cochrane – founder of the ‘Movement for World Evangelisation’ (aka the Mildmay Movement) – who supported Murray and encouraged him to share his vision.

In 1945, Murray wrote an article to which a number of servicemen responded. Pilot Jack Hemmings and engineer Stuart King were among them.

The fledgling MAF team spent months in research and discussion. Hundreds of letters went to missionary societies and subsequently, MAF was asked to help around the world.

But, the operational data required to establish an overseas flight programme was unobtainable in the UK. An overseas on-the-spot survey flight in their own plane was the only way to get it recalls Stuart:

‘Every day confirmed that the only way to get necessary information would be an on-the-spot survey. In view of the vast areas and the isolation of so many places, a plane would be essential.’

But who would fund MAF’s first aircraft?

Sponsored by the Mildmay Movement, a Miles Gemini aircraft was delivered in August 1947 and named ‘The Mildmay Pathfinder’ in honour of their sponsor.

The Pathfinder’s tour of the UK was the final stage of preparation ahead of MAF’s first survey flight across central Africa.

The six-week UK tour had a two-fold purpose: 1) to familiarise the crew with operating the aircraft and 2) to raise awareness and garner support amongst church congregations.


RAF Chaplain Captain Marsh dedicates the Mildmay Pathfinder to God (credit: MAF Archive)

RAF Chaplain Capt. Marsh dedicates Mildmay Pathfinder to God (credit:MAF Archive)

Flying the length and breadth of the UK, the tour covered 3,600 miles!

There were events in more than 30 locations, with packed meetings at the airfields and more than 150 people given short joyrides in the Mildmay Pathfinder. It was quite the publicity stunt remembers Stuart:

‘There was great interest and enthusiasm with a number of people becoming life-long supporters.’

As a result, over 18,000 people heard about MAF, with approximately 12% of those committing to pray for its future.

In November 1947, the Mildmay Movement’s newsletter ‘Mildmay Outlook’ summarised the successful UK tour and offered autographs and photos to supporters:

(LtoR) Jack Hemmings, Stuart King, Ken, Tom Banham & Murray Kendon (credit: MAF Archive)

(LtoR)Jack Hemmings, Stuart King, Ken Ellis, Tom Banham & Murray Kendon(MAF Archive)

From MAF’s very beginning, supporters have played a crucial role in praying for and financially supporting MAF’s work.

We thank God for their partnership and dedication to MAF’s vision over so many decades.

Quotes taken from MAF co-founder Stuart King’s book ‘Hope Has Wings’.