Mind the Gap in South Sudan

Mind the Gap in South Sudan

At 191cm tall, Eivind has to quite literally squash himself into the cockpit of MAF’s smallest aircraft; so it clearly isn’t comfort or even the plane's performance that ignites his passion for the Cessna 182!

'It’s the service the plane can do for church and mission in South Sudan that excites me the most!'

‘I love the Cessna 182 because it fills a gap that has existed for years where MAF couldn’t offer a small and cheap aircraft,' continues MAF Pilot Eivind Lindtjørn. 'For me, this is what mission and church flying is all about – that they can charter a plane for one to three passengers to fly wherever they need to go – to reach out to a village or to fly supplies – and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.’

‘It takes us back to the kind of Nate Saint era type of flying. I feel much more connected to our partners. Because of the type of flying that we do, I wait with the passengers and then I go back with them, so I get to know them at a different level. We have prayer fellowship before we go. I feel a part of the ministry when I fly this plane.’

‘I can fly down to Lokitok, a 40-minute flight, with 270kg of cargo or 2 to 3 passengers for $260 round trip. To drive, it’s pot-holed and there are bandits along the road. It would take them a whole day, so they save both in money and time. With this aircraft we can actually say that it’s cheaper to use that aircraft than to use their car.’

'We’re now the only one in South Sudan that can offer the little 182. No one else is filling that gap. If we can’t do it, no one else can do it.'

Mission, aviation and fellowship 

‘Two African Inland Mission (AIM) doctors from the US have been coming here twice a year for the last ten years. They had to go to Lokitok and stay for a few weeks and develop a clinic there. They needed to fly on a very specific date. For that purpose, it was perfect.

‘Kuron Peace Village were so excited when we got this plane, they asked, ‘Are you always available? Can we always charter this plane?’ It’s two days to drive there from Juba, and the roads are insecure and unsafe. They fly in one to three people, or their inverter might be broken for the solar system, so they fly in an inverter, and add on food or whatever they need that adds up to 200-300kg.

‘Bishop Taban, the founder of the Kuron Peace Village, travels a lot. He’s doing reconciliation and flies all over South Sudan. In Kuron, all the tribal chiefs came and had a little meeting under the tree before we left. Then I flew him to Yei where he met with a reconciliation group. He’s so excited and happy to have this plane available.

‘The Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) uses this plane all the time. One day I flew two radio workers installing a system for their station, and another time flew people running a workshop for the church, or a bishop to a board meeting. ECS uses the plane the most frequently.

Minding the gap

Most of the flights are east, west and south because those roads are so insecure. You don’t drive to Yei or Kajo Keji anymore because there are robberies where people are killed. And now it’s cheaper to use the aircraft.

We’re now the only one in South Sudan that can offer the little 182. No one else is filling that gap. If we can’t do it, no one else can do it. If I can’t fly one pastor or one missionary to Torit, he has to drive down. So it’s really meeting a need.

Dedication of MAF's Cessna 182 on South Sudan