Welcome to Kalimantan

 Challenge and adventure


You’ve landed in the Indonesian part of southern Borneo — an adventure in every sense of the word

Covered by beautiful mountains, epic rainforests and snaking rivers, Kalimantan is thought to be the best place in the world to see orangutans in what remains of the rich jungle canopy.

Not only is this great ape endangered, but so too are the vibrant cultures of the indigenous people known as Dayak, and many other tribes scattered across tiny, isolated villages.

Its name is derived from the ancient word Kalamanthana which means ‘burning weather’ — indicative of the seasonal wildfires and active volcanoes which threaten life across this hot, humid country. In fact, Indonesia contains more active volcanoes than any other country in the world.

MAF launched a programme in 1969 from Tarakan in the east, primarily to help missionaries alleviate the acute poverty and isolation suffered by rural populations.

As Kalimantan’s indigenous Church emerged and began to grow, MAF was instrumental in serving pastors and evangelists, helping them spread the Gospel and offer long-term development solutions in villages otherwise inaccessible by road.

Today, MAF’s two Kodiak aircraft provide regular, dependable flights for partners who distribute life-changing cargo and evacuate critical patients to hospital. Airstrips are challenging and require regular practice and inspection, but the benefits to surrounding communities are immeasurable.

Vaccinations are improving health, education is becoming accessible and clean water systems are enhancing daily living for thousands of indigenous people, thanks to MAF’s reliable flight service.


Life Expectancy
Basic Human Needs

1 – Teach

children in Long Pujungan to read, who would otherwise be working the fields.

2 – Protect

rural communities like Long Ampung against infections by distributing vaccinations — including Covid-19.

3 – Celebrate

at a dedication ceremony at Malinau where the Gospel of Luke has recently been translated into five local languages, a long-term partnership MAF has helped facilitate.

4 – Rest

in MAF’s unique hospitality house, built near Tarakan Hospital for critical patients to recover after treatment before being flown back to their village.

In August 2021, two airstrips were reopened at Long Padi and Pa’Upan

Both airstrips pose unique challenges due to the surrounding mountains, requiring many inspections and practice flights before MAF could start landing there regularly. Former Kalimantan pilot Steve Persenaire made a special trip away from his office in Jakarta to spend a week training pilots to land on these new runways, which are now part of MAF’s weekly flying schedule.

Here’s how MAF pilots navigate these unique locations today


  • Blind approach due to mountains blocking pilots’ vision
  • To land, aircraft form large ‘spirals’ around the mountain like a helter-skelter
  • Pilots use checkpoints to ensure they are on the right glide path for landing using outcrops of rock and groups of trees
  • Landing is short, fast and accurate, in one direction for Long Padi and two for Pa’Upan
  • During the rainy season, Long Padi can become more difficult and even more essential for locals, whose only existing dirt roads turn to mud.


  • Long Padi has a 16% slope at the start of the runway; to get up the hill, high speeds must be reached with full engine power
  • After the slope, the pilot must immediately stop and use remaining movement to pivot around one wheel to face back downhill, ready for take-off
  • Pa’Upan may be accessed from both directions depending on the wind, but high speeds to dodge surrounding mountains is essential for a successful departure.



Set up in 2001 by a group of ex-missionary staff including MAF engineers and pilots, the Quest Aircraft Company commissioned a vessel designed specifically for humanitarian relief flying. The first Kodiak flew in 2007, and offers nine passengers and a large payload the ability to land on extremely short airstrips.





‘The Kodiak is very well suited for the operational environment in Kalimantan. The aircraft has really good performance for shorter airstrips, having been specifically designed for short landings. It is comfortable and gets people where they need to go quickly.’
David Holsten, CEO of MAF US and former Kodiak pilot in Kalimantan


–  A one-hour medical emergency flight can easily save a week of travelling. Pray for safety as our pilots navigate challenging terrain to collect patients from isolated communities and fly them to hospital.


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