With gratitude we remember Larry Heintz

Published: 28 Mar 2018

It is with great sadness we share that our MAF colleague and friend Larry Heintz passed away peacefully on Saturday 10th March. 

Larry served with MAF for over 28 years, contributing significantly in the development of safety culture within the organisation and beyond. In 2015 Larry was recognised by the United Nations World Food Programme with the Humanitarian Aviation Recognition award for his exceptional contribution to the international humanitarian community.

Born in Canada, Larry studied aviation technology and bible studies at LeTourneau University in Texas where he also trained as a Medical Emergency Technician.

During his time at LeTourneau, Larry was a passenger on a plane involved in a mid-air crash whilst trying to land.  The accident heightened Larry’s awareness that God is in control of our time. It also led him to consider learning to fly. Eventually, he earned enough money to not only complete his course, but then learn how to fly fixed wing aircraft, and fly and fix helicopters.

After doing some commercial flying and flight training in the USA, Larry returned to Canada. In 1986, he joined Helimission, a Christian organization using helicopters to provide social, medical and spiritual help to people in remote and inaccessible areas. Larry moved to Ethiopia and enjoyed flying into remote areas with aid and for evangelism, where people had never heard the gospel before. While in Ethiopia Larry met Jane, an English nurse and midwife with SIM.

Larry and Jane married in 1988. They both wanted to return to the mission field. Having been accepted by MAF they went on to serve in Chad and then Ethiopia during which time their daughters Val, Laura and son Jon were born.

In 1995 Larry accepted a position with MAF’s flight safety department in the UK. During this time Larry set about improving MAF’s practise around medical evacuation flights. He refreshed his emergency medical skills with the local ambulance service, who also trained him in use of a Kendrick Extrication Device (KED) to keep the spine stable for trauma casualties.  He then organised KEDs for MAF programmes and began teaching pilots basic first aid and how to transport casualties safely.

Whenever Larry provided safety training for MAF overseas staff he would invite other interested organizations to join. Larry saw it as an honour to assist other organizations in this way. In 2015 he spoke at the World Health Organization’s ‘Global Humanitarian Aviation Exhibition and Conference’ on flight safety.

Over the years, Larry extensively researched the International Civil Aviation Authority Standards and recommendations for monitoring safety trends and indicators.  He investigated tools to collect and analyse an array of safety data to identify existing and emerging risks. By 2015, due to the combined effort and hard work of field staff and Larry, the MAF Africa programmes had gone for 8 years with no accidents.

Within the UK Larry was a help, inspiration and encouragement in recruiting and preparing new staff for life overseas, participating in enquirers’ days and other events. He was instrumental in the setup of the engineering training programme, and later the engineering training partnership between MAF UK and MMS in the USA.

At the end of September 2015, Larry was diagnosed with a grade 4 brain tumour. The tumour spread and in March 2016 Larry was given around six months to live. Miraculously, following lots of prayer from friends, family and colleagues, the tumour responded to palliative chemotherapy, with only a very small area remaining. Larry’s consultant was overjoyed - never in his career had he seen someone recover so dramatically! God had graciously granted Larry an extension. He continued working a few hours a day for MAF until December 2017.

A man of faith, Larry gave his life in service to God and other people. He leaves an indelible mark upon MAF culture, and will be greatly missed. We give thanks for all that he contributed, and for the pleasure of knowing and working alongside him.

Please pray for Larry’s wife Jane and children Val, Laura and Jon, as they grieve the loss of a wonderful husband and father.