Plane in the Playground at Hadlow Primary School

Published: 22 Nov 2018

A rare sight greeted the pupils of Hadlow Primary School, when a light aircraft ‘landed’ on their playground today (22 November 2018). A two-seater Cessna 150 aircraft arrived to mark the launch of the school’s ‘Advent Adventure’, a charity campaign hosted by international NGO, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).

MAF is the world’s largest humanitarian airline, flying essential cargo, medics and more than 2,000 partner organisations in 27 developing countries across the globe. Millions of people cannot access basic medical care, clean water, food or education, simply because it’s too dangerous or time-consuming to reach them. MAF’s flight service enables the world’s remotest people to access the essentials they need to survive. Every four minutes, an MAF plane is taking off or landing, flying help, hope and healing to some of the remotest places on earth.

Over 200 pupils from the school got the chance to climb inside the MAF light aircraft and feel what it might be like to be a pilot or passenger. They also got the chance to speak to the MAF team and ask lots of questions about the aircraft and the work MAF does around the world.  Each pupil also received their own Advent calendar, with 24 different windows allowing the children to ‘fly’ around the world this December, finding out about some of the most remote places and people where MAF operates. As well as opening windows on a physical calendar, pupils at the school will embark on an interactive, digital journey, with access to online crafts, games and educational resources which they can download in the classroom and at home though the campaign’s free website.

One of the highlights of the day for the pupils was meeting our guest “pilot” - children’s television presenter and MAF Ambassador, Gemma Hunt. Gemma kindly agreed to be the face of the Advent Adventure 2018 to encourage schools and families to take part. She said:

“When I first heard about Mission Aviation Fellowship, it was incredible to hear about the huge range of life-changing work they are doing across the globe. I am so pleased I can be part of this Advent campaign so that children and families across the UK get the chance to find out more about what life is like for people living in some of the most isolated places around the world where MAF operates. I also hope the campaign may inspire children to think about how they can get involved with humanitarian work in the future – perhaps one of today’s pupils could be a pilot, engineer, or charity worker of the future?”

The MAF ‘Advent Adventure’ has been welcomed by Hadlow Primary School’s Key Stage 2 leader, Rebecca Hooper, who was delighted that the pupils could learn more about the world and MAF’s life-saving work, as well as getting the rare chance to sit in the cockpit of a unique humanitarian aircraft – all in the safety of their own playground. She said:

“This visit by MAF was part of our global education work where our children are learning about different parts of the world. The children heard more about how we can give aid to help other people in different parts of the world and how that aid gets there.

“Advent is the time of year when children are excited about getting ready for Christmas. It is good for them to have the chance to think about people who don’t have as much as they have and to think about how they can give something back. The Advent calendars will hopefully remind them – so when they open each door, they will remember those who have less than they do and think about sharing what they have.”

Vivienne Pattison, MAF UK’s Head of Communications said: “With UK households set to spend £3bn this Black Friday and over the next month, people will be bombarded with the heavily advertised consumer side of Christmas. MAF’s ‘Advent Adventure’ encourages people to stop and remember the true meaning of Christmas, and especially those who won’t be receiving anything this Christmas – both in this country and across the world. There are so many ways to support charities at this time of year, but MAF really wants to give school and families a chance to journey with us, visiting some remote and exciting destinations, creating fun, festive crafts and enjoying the Advent season together – all completely free of charge.

“We are really grateful to everyone at Hadlow Primary School for the warm welcome they gave us and for supporting us on our ‘Advent Adventure’.”

About the Advent campaign:

MAF is offering children and parents across the UK an alternative way to prepare for Christmas and learn more about the work of MAF and the countries where we serve – FREE of charge. Each day, in addition to educational resources, crafts, recipes and games, children can enter a daily competition to win a small, festive prize – thereby entering an overall competition for a flight on a light aircraft. Each child requires the permission of an adult to enter, and an accompanying email address to find out if they have won. To find out more about the campaign, visit www.mafadvent.org

Media Enquiries

For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact Lesley Miller on 07526167412 or 07710 094896 or email lesley.miller@maf-uk.org