Faith beyond failure: Pilot Ping’s journey to MAF

Faith beyond failure: Pilot Ping’s journey to MAF

Two years ago MAF pilot Lungpinglak Domtta (Ping) had never heard of Arnhem Land. Now he lives there, fulfilling a God-given dream. Story by Angela Harding

Ping grew up in the inland, heavily populated, mountainous region of Nagaland, northeast India. Arnhem Land is flat, remote, sparsely-populated, with water everywhere he looks. Ping finds Arnhem Land very empty and silent at times.

Traditional Nagaland dancing in Scotland

Recently he went ‘out bush’ and was invited to join the Yolngu as they danced. Ping loves to dance. In 2014, he was part of a Nagaland contingent that travelled to Scotland to dance at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Ping enthusiastically joined in and realised that some of the dance steps of the Yolngu are very similar to those he learned back home in Nagaland.

Ping misses his family and his music, but he knows that he is where God wants him, among the Yolngu people in Arnhem Land. 

Ping didn’t know anyone from an aviation background but when he was 10 years old he had a dream of becoming a pilot. As he grew older he dreamt of joining the Indian Air Force. In 2007, when he was in year 12, a Career Councillor at school introduced him to the idea of work in civil aviation. 

'It was through my failure that God’s plan was realised. God had a plan and He opened up the way for me!'

In 12th grade, he had failed his end of year maths exams, which was a shock for Ping since he had excelled at maths as recently as in 10th grade. Unfortunately, passing maths is vital to getting into aviation in India, so Ping’s dream of becoming a pilot seemed out of reach.                            

Ping decided to return to college, re-sit his exams and pursue other career options. He often questioned God, asking why he had failed his maths exams after doing so well two years before. Ping couldn’t understand it. After a further year of study, Ping passed his exams and was selected for a civil engineering course.

Learning to fly

One day on the way home from town Ping dropped into his brother’s shop and did something he’d never done before. He asked his brother for a newspaper. He took it home to read and saw that the Government were sponsoring people to obtain commercial pilot’s licences.

He was confused as to what to do as his path now seemed set on civil engineering. But he decided to apply. He went to the interviews, sat the exams and was selected. Ping received a Government scholarship covering 75% of the fees to obtain a Commercial Pilot’s Licence.

Pilot Ping doing aviation training

During this CPL training, he realised that if he had passed maths in the first year he would have been studying engineering somewhere in India; something that he really didn’t want to do. 

'It was through my failure that God’s plan was realised,' Ping asserts. 'God had a plan and He opened up the way for me!'

After becoming a commercial pilot, Ping was employed by a charter company, but needed to find around AUD 16,000 (£8-9,000) to complete their ground school. Again, the Government stepped in and granted him a full scholarship.

Dedicating his career to God

Ping has gained valuable experience with this charter company in Dornier 228s, as a co-pilot flying medical evacuations. Later on, he was promoted to look after the company’s operations. Whenever they flew to the north-eastern part of India they had to fly over Bangladesh, so they needed permission to overfly Bangladeshi flight space. Ping dealt with a Muslim man named Imtiaz Ahmed Mithun in Dhaka, and over time developed a friendship with him.

Ping with a Dornier 228s aircraft

One evening, they were talking and Imtiaz asked Ping whether he was a Christian. Ping replied that he was. Imtiaz had seen MAF operations at Dhaka airport and told Ping about this Christian flying mission in Bangladesh. He encouraged Ping to look into this organisation.

When Ping looked up MAF on the Internet, he noted that he didn’t have quite enough experience and that there was no MAF office in India, but he decided to write his testimony and send it to the MAF office in Cairns anyway. Ping was convinced that he could use his flying career to serve God: 'At one point, I couldn’t see any way that I would ever fly. I had failed, yet God had used that failure for something better for me. Only God could have made this happen. So I resolved to dedicate my aviation career to God in return.'

Working with MAF

Ping met with International Development Director Bill Harding in Bangalore, came to Cairns for an interview and the rest, as they say, is history. Ping applied to and was accepted by MAF. He completed his Australian commercial pilot’s licence conversion in August 2015 and the MAF standardisation in March 2016. Ping is now a MAF pilot based in Arnhem Land in Australia's Northern Territory.

God has turned Ping from a little boy in Nagaland with dream to become a pilot into a MAF pilot in Arnhem Land, Australia. God used a Muslim man in Bangladesh to make the connection and used the Government and its generous scholarships, as well as a local commercial company, to pave his way. And He used Ping’s failure and his willingness to believe that God had a better plan for him, to fulfil a God-given dream.

Pilot Ping in the cockpit of an MAF aircraft in Arnhem Land

MAF pilot Ping with Yolngu men in Arnhem Land