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Photo courtesy of Barry Oliver.

Adventist Aviation in the South Pacific Division

By Colin Dunn

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Colin Dunn, B.Ed. (Avondale College, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia). Dunn retired in 2011 from pastoral ministry in the North New South Wales conference, Australia. He is Australian by birth and has served the church as a minister, aircraft engineer, pilot and mission president in the South Pacific Division.  In retirement, he supports Adventist Aviation Services – PNG as Quality and Safety management, other project management roles, and local church elder. He is married to Maureen, has one existing daughter and two grandchildren.

The history of Seventh-day Adventist aviation in the South Pacific Division is one of challenge and success. Aircraft and aviators have made a remarkable contribution to the fulfillment of the mission of the Church, primarily in Melanesia and Australia.

Commencement of Seventh-day Adventist Aviation in Australia

In July 1937 a Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church member, Albert Harris, took a short flight around rural Cooranbong, New South Wales. He landed on a flat stretch of land near the Australasian Missionary College (Avondale).1

Nine years later, in June 1946, a record was made in the minutes of an Avondale College board meeting that a letter had been received from three men by the names of Harris, Davis, and Lantzke requesting permission to clear and prepare ground for an airstrip along the 600-acre “back paddock” of the college.2 The college board approved the construction but with conditions: a proper legal agreement was to be drawn up, the expense was to be borne by the sponsors of the project, a small rental would be charged, the land would be returned to the college if needed, and valuable timber was not to be destroyed.3 Others, including mechanic and aviator Frank Wainman,4 joined the original three visionaries to develop the Cooranbong airstrip.

Commencement of Seventh-day Adventist Aviation in Papua New Guinea

In that same year, another church member, Len Barnard, who had a vision of becoming a medical missionary in Papua New Guinea (PNG), gained his pilot’s license5 using his military pay. Barnard had been stationed in PNG as a medical orderly attached to the Australian Armed Forces Fifth Casualty Clearing Station, treating soldiers wounded during World War II. A desire was born in Len’s heart to bring aircraft and missionaries together for mercy flights to the isolated people of PNG.6

He successfully became a medical missionary in October 1948,7 but another 16 years would pass before he could use a mission plane. Mainland PNG is dominated by vast jungles and high mountains, and many areas are inaccessible other than by walking for days or weeks on foot, employing large numbers of people to carry goods, often in torrential rain.

SDA church leaders knew there were many dangers and technical issues associated with flying planes in PNG. A 1955 crash that killed the pilot8 on takeoff at the Togoba leprosarium was one incident that discouraged the church from getting involved. The church did not recognize the outstanding benefit that mission pilots would bring to spreading the gospel in remote and isolated areas of PNG until 1964.

In that year a new Cessna 180 was purchased, registered as VH-SDA, and named Andrew Stewart after a veteran South Seas missionary. Barnard had been the prime mover in raising funds for the airplane, which he gifted to the Coral Sea Union Mission. The Cessna was dedicated in Sydney, Australia, on June 27 and then flown to PNG by Brian Walker and Len Barnard, landing at Goroka on June 30, 1964.9

At first the Cessna was based in Laiagam, Enga Province, where Barnard was working, and shared with another medical missionary, Colin Winch, who was based in the Sepik region. The Cessna was an immediate success, being used to open new mission territory, transport and treat the sick, supply and transport workers, and carry building materials—flying “missions of mercy” as Len had originally envisioned.

The Andrew Stewart was the first of many aircraft to form the backbone of the new Adventist Aviation Services PNG (AAS PNG). So successful was the use of this first aircraft that a second one was soon needed. To raise funds this time, a new alliance was forged with The Quiet Hour, a radio ministry in North America.10 This alliance proved invaluable, providing four AAS PNG aircraft, fully or in part, to PNG in all.11 AAS PNG has operated continuously since 1964.

In those early years, the expatriate ministers who were pilots and district directors came up with some creative ways to finance their operating costs. These included picking up “stranded” people for a “donation,” running small trade stores in remote villages, and donations from church members in Australia and New Zealand. Mission stories sent by the pilots to the weekly news publication of the South Pacific Division inspired many members to donate.

Commencement of Seventh-day Adventist Aviation in the Western Pacific Union Mission

In 1968 the western Pacific area was administered by two union missions, the Coral Sea Union Mission, largely covering the territory of the mainland of Papua and New Guinea, and the Bismarck-Solomons Union Mission, which included the northern islands of PNG and the Solomon Islands. The Bismarck-Solomons Union Mission had much greater distances to cover than the Coral Sea Union Mission because it stretched over 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) of mostly ocean. Pastor John Lee was the director of the Youth and Education departments of the Bismarck-Solomons Union Mission. He believed his area would benefit greatly from a twin-engine aircraft to supplement their fleet of ships.

Before putting his request to Pastor Frame, the Australasian Division president, Lee contacted an American pilot, Wayne Fowler, who owned a Beech T18 aircraft. Fowler volunteered to come PNG to fly a three-month viability study for the cost of fuel only. The Fowlers arrived in December 1968 and stayed with John Lee and his family at Rabaul.12

When the study was complete, a proposal was drawn up and submitted to church leaders in Australia and the island missions. Wayne Fowler flew home to the United States of America, where he contacted J. L. Tucker of The Quiet Hour radio ministry. This ministry agreed to raise funds for a twin-engine aircraft, and while the South Pacific Church executives were still considering the proposal, the money was quickly raised in the United States of America, and a new Aztec was purchased and flown out to Rabaul by Fowler, arriving in March 1970.

Pastor Colin Winch was appointed as the pilot of the new Aztec aircraft, registered as VH-SDM, and because he was based in PNG with the Coral Sea Union Mission, the aircraft was used in both union missions.13 Later, with a realignment of borders and the establishment of the Western Pacific Union Mission (WPUM), new headquarters were established in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands.14

Winch was appointed as the director of the Youth and Health departments of the WPUM, and the Aztec was relocated to Honiara. A second pilot, Ray Smith, the principal of Betikama SDA school,15 was also available. Mission station airstrips were built at Kukudu, Western Solomon Islands—dedicated on September 20, 197216—and at Atoifi Adventist Hospital, completed on December 2, 1975.17

An alternate route from Honiara to Atoifi was a 22-hour sea journey via mission launch. Lens Larwood, manager and nursing superintendent of the Atoifi Adventist Hospital,18 completed a very difficult airstrip construction at Atoifi, allowing the mission Aztec to shorten the trip to 27 minutes!

Church employees and supplies could now be transported across open sea with frequent flights to Fiji, New Hebrides, New Caledonia, Nauru, Gilbert, and Ellis Islands in PNG and the occasional flight to Australia or New Zealand. An application for an air transport license was lodged with the Solomon Island Department of Civil Aviation. Despite strong opposition from the local airline, the license was eventually granted in 1976.19

The new license gave Pastor Winch the opportunity to subsidize operational costs by filling empty seats with paying passengers. The church leaders at the Australasian Division insisted, however, that the only fares to be collected were from patients and their near relatives on flights to and from Atoifi Adventist Hospital.20

Adventist Aviation Services Papua New Guinea in the Early 1970s

By 1972 the Coral Sea Union Mission had been replaced by the Papua New Guinea Union Mission (PNGUM), and AAS PNG was in its heyday, operating five aircraft, including one twin-engine Aztec. The organization was run as a private operation but to commercial charter standards. Most of the pilots were ministers or teachers who used the planes to work in their own district as well as other areas that did not have a resident pilot. In 1973 AAS PNG’s first full-time commercial pilot who was not a minister, John Bryant, was appointed.21 Bryant flew all the AAS PNG aircraft but primarily flew the Aztec, which did most of the longer, over-water flying between the islands.

In 1972, on the suggestion of SDA pilot and aircraft engineer Hans Aeberli, an aircraft maintenance workshop was set up. It was located in the town of Goroka because of its central location in the Eastern Highlands, and Aeberli, having all the licenses necessary, and more, to keep the AAS PNG fleet flying, was put in charge.22

The first nine years of AAS PNG operation were fatality free. There were some “incidents” and close calls. But on April 23, 1973, AAS PNG suffered its first tragedy. The Cessna 207 registered as VH-UBY crashed at Goroka airport after an engine failed on takeoff. Pastor Laurie Shields, who was piloting the plane, Matthew Singoi, and two of Singoi’s children were killed as the plane was making an emergency landing. Four other passengers survived.23

During the 1970s there was a great deal of emphasis on using aircraft for the work of the Church. Before Pastor Shields’s fatal accident, there had been a push for a more structured checking and training program. In 1973, Wes Guy, who had been a pilot in World War II, was appointed as the inaugural chief pilot, a role responsible for conducting annual checks for all pilots flying for the Church in the South Pacific Division.24 Guy had previously served as a Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) examiner of airmen in PNG and was the director of operations with Executive Airways and Executive Airlines Victoria.25As such he was particularly well qualified for the role.

Avondale Flying School

The Australasian Division also decided to put in place a training program to provide a continuous supply of pilots and ensure a high standard in church aircraft operation.26 A flying school was set up at Avondale College using the college airstrip in Cooranbong.

Pastor Colin Winch, with his extensive experience in PNG and the Solomon Islands and more than 6,000 flying hours, was asked to become the first chief flying instructor (CFI) at Avondale. After completing additional training, Colin became fully qualified as the CFI in February 1978.27

Adventist Aviation Services in the Western Pacific Union Mission

After Pastor Winch’s return to Australia in 1977, the WPUM relied on lay volunteers from the United States of America and Australia to pilot the Aztec. After the departure of Doug Donesky in 1983, a lack of finances and volunteer pilots brought the WPUM flying program to an end.28 In Vanuatu a new aviation program was also cut short when on March 5, 1980, a new Quiet Hour Cessna 206 burst into flames during preparation for takeoff. The pilot, Pastor Bill Townend, aborted the flight and escaped the fire.29

The Aztec was now left covered in dust and cobwebs in the WPUM hangar at Honiara airfield. However, while canvassing donations for the annual Appeal for Missions, Pastor Len Barnard met a young businessman named Gary Clifford. After Bible studies with Barnard, Clifford was baptized and decided to attend Avondale Flying School to train as a pilot. While there, he heard about the mission Aztec plane that licensed aircraft maintenance engineer Hans Aeberli, now at Cooranbong airstrip, had been asked to recover from the Solomon Islands. Clifford decided to join Aeberli and his apprentice, Gary Phelps, on the venture.

In 1984 while in Honiara, Gary Clifford took the opportunity to prepare a proposal for the WPUM president, Pastor Rex Moe, outlining a viable plan of operations for the Aztec in the WPUM. This was done while the three men were repairing the Aztec in readiness for it to be ferried to Cooranbong for sale.

The WPUM considered the proposal and decided to ask Clifford to organize restoration of the Aztec, fly it back to Honiara, and implement his proposal as a self-funded volunteer. He would do this by leasing the Aztec from the mission. He started flying in February 1985 and later that year launched what was to become Western Pacific Air Services.30

Western Pacific Air Services was set up and run as a purely commercial operation with no mission support.31 The first year, it flew 800–900 hours. By the end of 1985, it had made $40,000 profit after all expenses, including Gary’s wage.32 All profits were put into building airstrips at Adventist villages so that they could develop their communities and have access to hospitals, schools, markets, and other locations. At the same time, this allowed Western Pacific Air Services to increase its air services without competing with or antagonizing the government airline, SOLAIR.

While the WPUM owned the aircraft and the route rights were in its name, Western Pacific Air Services was a trust company. All the Solomon Islands church members were the beneficiaries of the trust, which was administered by 10 trustees: 8 Solomon Islander trustees who were respected senior members of the SDA Church, the manager of the Western Pacific Air Services, and the WPUM president. This arrangement ran smoothly and successfully until 1991.33

In 1991, a new manager was appointed, and three more followed. Later, a new name was chosen, Western Pacific Airlines.34 New aircraft were introduced,35 and a new business model was adopted that put Western Pacific Airlines in direct opposition to SOLAIR. This had expensive ramifications because the Western Pacific Airlines’ engineer had left, and the operation now had to rely on SOLAIR for maintenance.

During the five-year period that followed, there were at least 18 aircraft incidents and accidents, and a minimum of 500 hours twin-time for recruiting pilots was introduced due to insurance requirements. What some believe to be an inappropriate aircraft choice had been made. These and other circumstances together were more than WPUM could handle.

The result was that Western Pacific Airlines collapsed with over a million dollars in debt, and a decision to shut down operations was made on March 9, 1998.36 The South Pacific Division gratuitously paid the debt, and Western Pacific Airlines was sold back to Gary Clifford for the sum of one dollar.37 He started to rebuild the operation as Western Pacific Airlink, but around this time the Solomon Islands entered a period of ethnic conflict that prevented the company from obtaining insurance. All Adventist air services in the Solomon Islands ended in the year 2000.

Adventist Aviation Services Papua New Guinea Since 1980

In PNG, with changes over time, the medical missionary pilot role had become somewhat obsolete. However, the health needs of the rural people were as dire as ever. To meet the need, Pastor Ken Vogel, who was a pilot and the district director, worked with Sopas Adventist Hospital’s Dr. Robert Wat in Enga Province in 1982 to commence a monthly flying doctor program.38 Medical personnel involved with this service visited rural clinics and villages in the Western Highlands and Sepik Region, which increased the Church’s standing in these areas and brought hope to many who were previously helpless.

However, because of financial pressure, by 1984 the AAS PNG fleet had been reduced to a single Cessna 206, registered as P2-SDC and nicknamed “Charlie.” The other aircraft, including the Aztec, had been sold, and the full-time pilot position had been terminated. During the mid-1980s, “Charlie” was flying approximately 1,000 hours a year with favorable costings, but the church’s outreach, particularly in remote areas, was limited.

By the mid-1980s the church in PNG was maturing, and expatriate leadership positions were being increasingly and successfully nationalized. This created several problems for AAS PNG. Previously all church pilots and engineers self-funded their training to gain the required qualifications. PNG citizens who were in ministry could not accomplish this. Also, in the past, there was no pilot cost to the program because the pilots were paid employees who flew aircraft instead of driving cars.

A costing analysis completed in 1987 demonstrated that, while AAS PNG could not compete financially on the few main commercial routes between major centers, their own planes were considerably less expensive when flying into remote areas.39 While chartering commercial aircraft was a possibility, availability was limited, and the possibility of a charter operator remaining on the ground while the pastor accomplished his task was dubious.

There appeared to be two solutions. The first was for the church to pay for commercial pilots who were not ministers or teachers. The second was for AAS PNG to commence a limited commercial operation that would create funds while the aircraft was going about its primary task of serving the Church.40

The South Pacific Division made it quite clear it was not going to fund enough expatriate pilots for the first option to be viable, so in December 1987, permission was given for the PNG Union Mission to apply for an aircraft charter license.41 Consequently, the Cessna 206 fleet was upgraded with an additional turbocharged model registered as P2-SIA.

Commercial pilot Chris Cavilla was employed by AAS PNG to fly the charter operations. The current minister-pilots who did not have commercial licenses were upgraded at church expense. Along with the generous donation of another Quiet Hour aircraft from the Philippines (registered as P2-SDP) and a flowing income, AAS PNG was reestablished and better equipped to serve the people.

AAS PNG’s first commercial contract was with a cardamom spice company to transport cardamom from three locations within 20 minutes flying distance of Goroka. Local Adventist villagers were also asking for help to move their produce, which often was decaying while they waited for a transport plane to arrive at their airstrip. AAS PNG helped by transporting their produce for them.

From 1964 to 1993 the PNGUM membership had grown from 15,50042 to just over 128,000.43 The road infrastructure in PNG had improved in standard, but very few additional roads had been built. Many airstrips were constructed with the help of the SDA Church and AAS PNG during these years. The standard operating procedure was to open a new area, build an airstrip, and grow the church.

However, with a change of staff at the union mission office, there was strong opposition to the concept of using church assets to carry on business and make money from carrying coffee—even SDA church member coffee.44 At the same time, many of the experienced minister pilots and engineers returned to Australia and New Zealand. AAS PNG’s Air Service License #94 was temporarily canceled.45 The operation was wound back, became unviable, and was finally grounded, being deemed no longer safe to operate.46

AAS PNG struggled on, however. There was difficulty finding engineering staff.47 With continuing financial restraints, there were differences of opinion with respect to structural reform. The financial struggles were only exacerbated when, as a result of the fallout from the tragedy of September 11, 2001, in New York, the General Conference of the SDA Church introduced a policy with a minimum aviation liability insurance increase from one million to fifty million dollars per aircraft.48 This requirement considerably increased the cost of insurance premiums.

While this was happening in AAS PNG, a seismic shift was occurring in aviation in PNG as a whole. Some years earlier, the airline that served most of the rural airstrips in PNG, TALAIR, had ceased operations and departed from PNG overnight on May 25, 1993.49 The vacuum that was created remained unfilled, and the Church’s need to be self-sufficient in aviation had become even more critical than it was before.

With this change of circumstances, a change in the attitude of Church administration toward commercial operations and the arrival of a new chief pilot, Trevor Robinson, AAS PNG began to reestablish some momentum.50 Previously, while serving the Church had always been the top priority, viability had been limited because any income that was generated had been transferred directly to the PNGUM.51

Les Anderson, from the United States of America, joined AAS PNG in 1998. He held both a commercial pilot’s license and an aircraft maintenance engineering license. By 2002 he was the director of aviation for AAS PNG. Anderson was a very experienced missionary pilot due to his earlier career in Ethiopia.52

AAS PNG had purchased a Fletcher FU-24, which carried a larger payload than the Cessna 206 aircraft.53 Only a few weeks before Les and his wife Mary Lane were due to leave PNG, Les was killed when the Fletcher he was piloting stalled and crashed on the southern side of the Kaw Kaw Gap Ridge, approaching Goroka, on May 3, 2002.54

The PNG Aviation Act of 2000 created a completely new operating system and philosophy. Consequently, all operators in PNG needed to rewrite their Operations Manual/Exposition. After Les Anderson’s death, John (Bill) Norton became the aviation director of AAS PNG. With ongoing problems, including other aircraft accidents and incidents as well as personnel and administrative staffing issues, Les’s subsequent crash investigation, plus continued underfunding, Bill suspended the Air Operators Certificate and all flight operations in March 2004.55

This was a very difficult time for SDA Church members. The only other aircraft plying the remote rural areas were other mission operators who were unwilling or unable to assist our church members. For those affected, it was a disaster.56 It is little wonder that everyone put much effort into buying a new aircraft once AAS PNG was ready to operate again.

In 2004 an aviation consultation involving all stakeholders resulted in a new business plan that saw a major overhaul of management structures and ensured financial viability and support by the church.57 The new PNG Aviation Act required the CEO of a commercial aviation operation to be far more qualified than previously. AAS PNG needed to become more professionally staffed, be safely operated, and remain financially viable.

After leaving PNG, Pastor Roger Millist had returned to pastoral ministry in Western Australia. By what appeared at the time to be a coincidence, he became the chief pilot of a small charter operation that also aided his rural ministry.58 His son Linden became a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer. Carol, his wife, was a trained nurse and was a good administrator. They joined him in returning to PNG in 2005 to reinvigorate the AAS PNG program: Roger as CEO, Linden as maintenance manager,59 and Carol as volunteer office manager and accountant.

Their first task was to get AAS PNG reaccredited and start operations. Two Cessna 206s had been involved in accidents and written off by the insurance company but were still in the hangar, including “Charlie,” the 1976 Quiet Hour Ministries aircraft. The one remaining Cessna 206, P2-SDA, was completely dismantled, requiring restoration to as-new condition. It was flying again in February 2006.60 Then, owing to the increasing cost of avgas and its decreasing availability and the need for greatly increased capacity, performance, and safety, after much prayer and research, a decision was made to move into the turboprop category of aircraft. This resulted in the purchase of a new PAC-750XL, a New Zealand–designed and built aircraft that doubled payload and passenger capacity while still handling the short, rugged mountain airstrips.61

A very enthusiastic fund-raising campaign was started in PNG. Each church member was challenged to donate PGK10 (10 kina, worth about US$4).62 When the aircraft (registered as P2-SDB) arrived, it was dubbed the “K10” plane. The aircraft was ceremonially blessed and feasted all over PNG. Whenever it landed for the first time in an area, the cry was, “Em nau balus bilong mipela,” which colloquially translated means, “This is our own plane!”

As well as the “K10” campaign, the US$1.4 million required for the purchase of this aircraft was obtained through Aircraft Replacement funds, Australian and New Zealand camp offerings, private donations, and a portion of a Thirteenth Sabbath Offering.63 Thanks to all these sources of funding and the generosity of SDA Church members everywhere, AAS PNG had moved onto a new footing.

While Roger Millist was CEO, he played a pivotal role in developing and maintaining rural airstrips and rural communities in the central highlands with funds supplied by the PNG government, for which he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia “for service to international relations through a range of aviation and church roles in Papua New Guinea” in 2014.64 The Millist family served until the end of 2013, but not before tragedy struck. In January 2013, Linden received burns to 52 percent of his body in an accident while servicing a PAC-750XL aircraft.65 Linden’s recovery took four years of intense medical care and much prayer.

Adventist Aviation in Australia

Four Australian church conferences plus the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mission have, at various times, owned and operated aircraft. They were used for the purposes of conference administration, pastoral visitation, church support, and Adventist Aviation Association (AAA) flying.

A popular service with country churches was the Sabbath “preaching milk run” where an aircraft was filled with preachers and flew out dropping a preacher in each town, with the pilot preaching at the last town then flying back, picking up each preacher again on the way. These could be one- and two-day exercises.

Three strong AAAs currently exist to evangelize the more remote outback towns of Australia. These AAAs are located in the North New South Wales Conference (commenced 1971),66 South Queensland Conference (commenced 1968),67 and Western Australia Conference (commenced 1978).68 All are operated and financed by volunteers with a local conference president or secretary on the governing board. They have used volunteer or conference pilots and a mixture of private, chartered, and conference planes, as well as private cars, buses, and other transports.

AAA has two models of operation:

  1. Seed sowing. The seed-sowing model involves flying to towns with no or maybe one Adventist resident. Using Signs magazines, tracts, SDA books, and originally, the very successful Gift Bible program, the participants door-knock the town on a regular schedule, usually monthly, seeking Bible studies or Bible correspondence course students. Sometimes health assessment teams will set up at local agricultural shows, and the occasional Kids Club is held.

  2. Small group support: The small group support model uses the seed-sowing methods but flies to towns that have an existing Adventist presence of some sort. The AAA team usually provides a Sabbath program for the isolated members there.

Over the decades, a large number of towns have been evangelized, a small number of churches and companies have been planted, and a few people baptized; the greatest outcome has been the tremendous encouragement provided for isolated members and small churches.

With the increasing availability of commercial flights and increasing insurance costs, combined with low aircraft flying hours and the closure of the Cooranbong airstrip,69 all aviation owned and operated by the Church in Australia has ceased. Fortunately, AAA continues with chartered aircraft.

Avondale Flying School Closure

At least ten of Colin Winch’s students from Avondale Flying School went on to become mission pilots70 (including his first student, Pastor Roger Millist), and more followed under the teaching of successive chief flying instructors. In 2005, the flying school was moved to Cessnock and eventually sold to a private operator in 2009.71

Since that time, AAS PNG has struggled to get pilots and has been recruiting many of its pilots from the United States of America. For Papua New Guinea, with its rugged terrain, remote jungle areas, and disadvantaged rural communities, the need for aircraft remains great.

Conclusion

Seventh-day Adventist Aviation in the South Pacific commenced on the strength of people with a vision. It continues to contribute to the success of the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on the strength of that same vision. Over the years it has experienced the ups and downs of financial pressure and personnel scarcity. But the contribution that aviation has made cannot possibly be calculated. Great is the need, and great is its success.

Adventist Aviation Personnel, 1964–2018

Pilots, Papua New Guinea

Pastor Len Barnard, Pastor Sydney Stocken, Pastor Elwyn Raethel, Pastor Colin Winch, Pastor Lewis Parker, Dr. Robert “Bob” Wood, Graham Barnett, Pastor Ray Newman, Glynn Lock, Pastor Laurie Shields, Hans Aeberli, Pastor Bruce Roberts, Pastor Bill Townend, Wesley “Wes” Guy, John Bryant, Pastor Warren Price, Pastor Russell Gibbs, Pastor Doug Robertson, Graham Webster, Pastor Gordon Stafford, Graham Wallace, Ken Weslake, Pastor Aaron Jeffries, Pastor Ken Vogel, Pastor Max Mulligan, John Pocock, Pastor Roger Millist, Pastor Colin Dunn, Pastor Trevor “Sid” Griffith, Pastor Lionel Smith, Pastor John Kosmeier, Pastor Peter Knopper, Chris Cavilla, Bob Snowden, Duncan Heidik, Pastor Paul Rankin, Pastor David Bryce, Leroy Kelm, Dale Wilton, Trevor Robinson, Ian Lesley, Conan Jerrard, Brendan Wilson, Bill Ariti, Pastor Les Anderson, David Millist, Robert Landgren, Brian Scarborough, Jeff Green, John (Bill) Norton, Jock McKay, Linden Millist, Damon Roberts, Boris Ambrus, Bennett Spencer, Dennis Susens, Philip Glendrange, Matt Dobson, Nathan Leins, Jeoffrey Downes, Anthony “Tony” Vaga, Larn Harvey, Pastor Wendell Downs, Matthew Mati, Brock Menhardt, Jeandre Roux

Pilots, Solomon Islands

Pastor Colin Winch, Ray Smith, Wayne Fowler, Peter Kerwin, Greg Thompson, Dave McRoberts, Doug Donesky, Garry Clifford, R. “Bob” Milne, Stephen Eaton, Glenn Eastlake, Joe McRoberts, Neville Bradfield, Gibson Galo, Mike Berglund, Leroy Kelm, Chris Cavilla, John Pocock, Mark Adema, Mark Passfield, Apapasai Tora, Geoff Posala, Keith Morrill, Terry Hess, Leighton White, David Jevtovic, Sarah Tolles (Chaney), Larn Harvey, Brendan Wilson

Pilots, Avondale Flying School

Pastor Colin Winch, Glynn Lock, Gill Davidson, Wayne Young, S. Quinn, Gary Clifford, John Bryant, Steve Eaton, Trevor Robinson, David Millist, H. Seeyen, Chris Cavilla, Peter Johnson, Leighton White, Rilanda Nikolas, Mark Passfield, Tony Moore, Yolanne Baker, Reg Litster, Grant Angas, Chad Johnston, John Giles, Alison Grenfell, Larn Harvey, Sarah Davidson, Brent Rooke, Gary Fraser, Michael Hayes, Tony Moore, Colin Brown, Rodney Tung, Greg Stivano, Carl Cooper, Jeff Bray

Adventist Aviation Association and Conference Pilots

A. Baglee, A. Southwell, Andrew Brazier, Arch Frisby, Barry Lawrence, Ben Kosmeier, Pastor Bill Townend, Bobbie (Robert) Bryant, Brian S. Oemcke, Darren Peakall, Pastor David Edgar, David Millist, David Thorley, Pastor Elwyn Raethel, G. Webster, Gary Clifford, Gary Fraser, Geoff Helsby, Glynn Lock, Graham Barnett, Graham Higgins, Hank Bias, Hans Aeberli, Haydn Chandler, Jarryd Dicksen, Jim Read, John Bryant, Pastor John Kosmeier, John Morris, John Pocock, Pastor John R. Lee, Pastor Ken Vogel, Pastor Len Barnard, Lester Stanley, Pastor Lewis Parker, Linden Millist, Mark Passfield, Pastor Max P. Smith, Melvyn Davey, Michael Grady, Murray Brown, Murray Hallam, Paul Slade, Peter Conley, Peter Johnson, Pastor Peter Knopper, Phillip A. Smith, Pastor Don Bain, Pastor R. “Bruce” Roberts, Raa Wheeler, Ray Smith, Reg Brody, Reg Litster, Reino Karvinen, Rod Gibbs, Pastor Roger Millist, Ron Mills, Pastor Trevor “Sid” Griffith, Trevor Robinson, Warwick D. Raymont

South Pacific Division Pilots

Wesley Guy, Pastor Colin Winch, Hans Aeberli, Pastor R. “Bruce” Roberts, Glynn Lock, Pastor Gordon Stafford

Engineers, Papua New Guinea

Hans Aeberli, Danny Biro, Luke Sivirai, Graham Wallace, Pastor Colin Dunn, Ted McDonough, Ruddy Marinka, Reg Colley, Ian Lesley, Brendan Wilson, Pastor Les Anderson, Nathan Pink, David Millist, Glen Atano “Benna,” John “Bill” Norton, Brian Scarborough, Keith Wilfley, Jeff Green, Linden Millist, Brooks Payne, Kyle Kennedy, Nathan Leins, Cletus Dillman, John Calvert

Engineers, Solomon Islands

Phil Carthew, Alick Tito, Clifton Livae, Desmond Tigulu, Reg Colley Sr., Reg Colley Jr., Brendan Wilson

Engineers, Avondale Flying School

Pastor Colin Dunn, Hans Aeberli, Gary Phelps, Reg Colley, Brendan Wilson, Milton Duffy, Andrew Brazier

Sources

Adair, Lawrence. “A Brief History of the A-Double-A, South Queensland.” Unpublished document, n.d. South Pacific Division Heritage Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia. File: AAA South Queensland.

Adventist Aviation, Papua New Guinea “Cost Comparison Mission A/C vs. Commercial A/C 1987.” Unpublished research document, n.d. Personal collection of the author.

Adventist Aviation PNG Special Offering. July 1, 2006. Pamphlet distributed to churches in Papua New Guinea in 2006.

Anderson, Leslie E. “Curriculum Vitae—Les E. Anderson.” Adventist Aviation Association, Goroka, Papua New Guinea.

“Australasian Division.” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1964. Washington D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1964.

“Aviation Engineer.” Minutes of the Papua New Guinea Union Mission Officers Meeting, November 7, 1991. Papua New Guinea Union Mission Archives, Lae, Papua New Guinea.

Barnard, Leonard. Banish the Night: Fighting Kur, Timango, and Other Devils in New Guinea. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1969.

“Basis for Acceptance of Proposal for Operation of Mission Aircraft.” Attachment to the minutes of the Western Pacific Union Mission Executive Committee, September 20, 1985. Trans Pacific Union Mission Archives, Suva, Fiji.

Coombe, Ray. “PNG Mission Plane Flies Again.” Record, March 11, 2006.

“Coral Sea Union Mission.” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association.

Down, Goldie. Wings Over New Guinea: The Story of Leonard Barnard. Boise, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1988.

Driscoll, L. “Historic Picture Gallery.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, December 15, 1980.

Evans, Ron A., to E. R. Piez. October 31, 1973. Personal collection of the author.

“Final Report of AAS Task Force 2004.” Unpublished document, n.d. Papua New Guinea Adventist Aviation Service files, Goroka, Papua New Guinea.

Fox, R. “History of an Airstrip.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 9, 1981.

Geelan, Eric. “Sopas Flying Doctor Service.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, July 23, 1983.

Goldstone, S. Ross. Winchee: Mission Stories of Colin and Melva Winch. Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company, 2014.

Guy, Wesley. “God Is My Co-Pilot.” Unpublished sermon. Personal collection of the author.

Hollaway, Robert. “First Mission Airstrip in the Solomons.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, December 18, 1972.

“Item 6.06.” Minutes of the Papua New Guinea Union Mission Aviation Advisory Committee, November 26, 1997. Papua New Guinea Union Mission Archives, Lae, Papua New Guinea.

Larwood, Lens G. “Atoifi Air Strip.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 1, 1976.

———. “From Devil Possessed to Christ Possessed.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, October 9, 1972.

Lee, John R. “The New Mission Plane.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, September 12, 1966.

Lock, L. “Sky Baby Too.” Avenues: Student Review at Australian Missionary College, November 29, 1937.

Martin, L. E. I Saw God's Hand. Frederick, MD: Amazing Facts, 2006.

“Medal Man.” Adventist Record, October 4, 2014.

Minutes of the Adventist Aerial Joy Evangelistic Group: Operation Outreach, April 25, 1971. South Pacific Division Heritage Centre. Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia. File: AAA NNSW.

Minutes of the Australasian Division Aviation Committee, 1973, 1975. South Pacific Division Archives, Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia.

Minutes of the Australasian Division Aviation Sub-Committee, March 10, 1977. South Pacific Division Archives, Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia.

Minutes of the Australasian Division Executive Committee, September 11, 1973. South Pacific Division Archives, Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia.

Minutes of the Coral Sea Union Mission Executive Committee, 1970–1971. Pacific Adventist University Archives, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Minutes of the Papua New Guinea Union Mission Executive Committee, 1972–2006. Pacific Adventist University Archives, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Minutes of the Western Australia Conference Executive Committee, March 30, 1978. Western Australia Conference Archives, Perth, West Australia.

Minutes of the Western Pacific Air Services Board. Trans Pacific Union Mission Archives, Suva, Fiji.

Minutes of the Western Pacific Airline Board. Trans Pacific Union Mission Archives, Suva, Fiji.

Minutes of the Western Pacific Union Mission Executive Committee, 1972, 1985. Trans Pacific Union Mission Archives, Suva, Fiji.

O’Toole, S. V. Department of Transport Papua New Guinea Aircraft Accident Report File Reference AS.02.1002. Aircraft Accident Report. Port Moresby: Department of Transport PNG, June 21, 2002.

“Our new plane in the New Hebrides . . .” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, April 28, 1980.

“Papua New Guinea Union Mission.” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1994. Silver Spring, MD: Office of Archives and Statistics, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1994.

“Papua New Guinea Union Mission Adventist Aviation Services Review Taskforce Terms of Reference.” Unpublished document, n.d. Papua New Guinea Adventist Aviation Service, Goroka, Papua New Guinea.

Piez, E. R. “Mission Plane Crashes—Four Dead in Air Tragedy.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, May 21, 1973.

Robinson, Trevor D., to Warwick Stokes. December 7, 1998. Papua New Guinea Union Mission Archives, Lae, Papua New Guinea.

Rosendahl, E. “Australasian Missionary College, Cooranbong, New South Wales.” Unpublished document, June 26, 1946. South Pacific Division Heritage Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia.

Scarbrough, Brian B., to Captain W. Bedner. March 23, 2004. Personal collection of the author.

“South Pacific Division.” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1993. Silver Spring, MD: Office of Archives and Statistics, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1993.

Stacey, Brenton. “End of Aviation in Cooranbong.” Record, March 11, 2006.

Stackelroth, Jarrod. “AAS Engineer Burnt in Fuel Accident.” Record, February 16, 2013.

Stafford, Gordon, to Colin Dunn. July 24, 1988. Private letter. Personal collection of the author.

Sustentation Fund Application for Leonard Henry Barnard. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives. Folder: Barnard, Leonard Henry. Document: “Sustentation Fund Application, Leonard Henry Barnard.”

“Talair Grounded.” Pacific Islander Monthly, July 1993.

“The Thirteenth Sabbath Offering.” Record, March 3, 2007.

Thiele, Kristin. “Avondale School of Aviation Takes Off for 2009.” Record, January 31, 2009.

Were, Eric. “Balus Belong Seven-Day He Come!.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, July 20, 1964.

“Western Pacific Airlines Closes.” Record, April 4, 1998.

Winch, Colin. “Aviation in the Western Pacific, 1970–1977.” Unpublished document, n.d. Personal collection of the author.

Notes

  1. L. Lock, “Sky Baby Too,” Avenues: Student Review at Australian Missionary College, November 29, 1937, 12.

  2. E. Rosendahl, “Australasian Missionary College, Cooranbong, New South Wales,” unpublished document, June 26, 1946, South Pacific Division Heritage Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia.

  3. Ibid.

  4. L. Driscoll, “Historic Picture Gallery,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, December 15, 1980, 16; R. Fox, “History of an Airstrip,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 9, 1981, 13.

  5. Goldie Down, Wings Over New Guinea: The Story of Leonard Barnard (Boise, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1988), 30–31.

  6. Ibid., 14–16.

  7. Sustentation Fund Application for Leonard Henry Barnard, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Folder: Barnard, Leonard Henry, Document: “Sustentation Fund Application, Leonard Henry Barnard.”

  8. E. L. Martin, I Saw God's Hand (Frederick, MD: Amazing Facts, 2006).

  9. Leonard Barnard, Banish the Night: Fighting Kur, Timango, and Other Devils in New Guinea (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1969), 80–84; Eric Were, “Balus Belong Seven-Day He Come!,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, July 20, 1964, 1–2.

  10. John R. Lee, “The New Mission Plane,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, September 12, 1966, 1.

  11. “Cessna 180 VH-SDB, 1964; Aztec VH-SDM, 1970; Cessna 206 P2-SDC,1976; Cessna 206 P2-SDP, 1990.”

  12. John Lee, interview by author, May 2014.

  13. Minutes of the Coral Sea Union Mission Executive Committee, April 15, 1970, Pacific Adventist University Archives, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Minutes of the Coral Sea Union Mission Executive Committee, May 27, 1971.

  14. Colin Winch, “Aviation in the Western Pacific, 1970–1977,” unpublished document, n.d., personal collection of the author, 1.

  15. Minutes of the Western Pacific Union Mission Executive Committee, December 10, 1972, Trans Pacific Union Mission Archives, Suva, Fiji.

  16. Robert Hollaway, “First Mission Airstrip in the Solomons,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, December 18, 1972, 9.

  17. Lens G. Larwood, “Atoifi Air Strip,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 1, 1976, 8.

  18. Lens G. Larwood, “From Devil Possessed to Christ Possessed,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, October 9, 1972, 1.

  19. Winch, “Aviation in the Western Pacific,” 1.

  20. Ibid., 2.

  21. R. A. Evans to E. R. Piez, October 31, 1973, personal collection of the author.

  22. Minutes of the Papua New Guinea Union Mission Executive Committee, June 18, 1972, Pacific Adventist University Archives, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

  23. E. R. Piez, “Mission Plane Crashes–Four Dead in Air Tragedy,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, May 21, 1973, 1.

  24. Minutes of the Australasian Division Aviation Committee, September 9, 1973, South Pacific Division Archives, Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia; Minutes of the Australasian Division Executive Committee, September 11, 1973, South Pacific Division Archives, Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia.

  25. Wesley Guy, “God Is My Co-Pilot,” unpublished sermon, n.d., personal collection of the author.

  26. Minutes of the Australasian Division Aviation Committee, November 11, 1975, South Pacific Division Archives, Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia; Minutes of the Australasian Division Aviation Sub-Committee, March 10, 1977, South Pacific Division Archives, Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia.

  27. S. Ross Goldstone, Winchee: Mission Stories of Colin and Melva Winch (Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company, 2014), 171–172.

  28. “Aviation Program,” minutes of the Western Pacific Union Mission Executive Committee, May 31, 1983, Trans Pacific Union Mission Archives, Suva, Fiji.

  29. “Our New Plane in the New Hebrides . . . ,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, April 28, 1980, 16.

  30. “Aztec Dry Lease Arrangement,” minutes of the Western Pacific Union Mission Executive Committee, December 5, 1985, Trans Pacific Union Mission Archives, Suva, Fiji.

  31. “Basis for Acceptance of Proposal for Operation of Mission Aircraft,” attachment to the minutes of the Western Pacific Union Mission Executive Committee, September 20, 1985, Trans Pacific Union Mission Archives, Suva, Fiji.

  32. Clifford, interview.

  33. Ibid.

  34. “Name Change,” minutes of the Western Pacific Air Services Board, August 3, 1994, Trans Pacific Union Mission Archives, Suva, Fiji.

  35. “Turbine Aircraft Lease Proposal,” minutes of the Western Pacific Airline Board, September 22, 1994, Trans Pacific Union Mission Archives, Suva, Fiji.

  36. “Western Pacific Airlines Closes,” Record, April 4, 1998, 11; “Airline Future,” minutes of the Western Pacific Airline Board, March 9, 1998, Trans Pacific Union Mission Archives, Suva, Fiji.

  37. Clifford, interview.

  38. “Health and Temperance Report,” minutes of the Papua New Guinea Union Mission Executive Committee, December 5, 1982, Pacific Adventist University Archives, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Eric Geelan, “Sopas Flying Doctor Service,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, July 23, 1983, 8.

  39. Adventist Aviation, Papua New Guinea, “Cost Comparison Mission A/C vs. Commercial A/C 1987,” unpublished research document, n.d., personal collection of the author.

  40. “Aviation Committee Report,” minutes of the Papua New Guinea Union Mission Executive Committee, 1987. Pacific Adventist University Archives, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

  41. “Aviation Committee Recommendations,” minutes of the Papua New Guinea Executive Committee, December 6, 1987, Pacific Adventist University Archives, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

  42. “Australasian Division,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1964 (Washington D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1964), 80.

  43. “South Pacific Division,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1993 (Silver Spring, MD: Office of Archives and Statistics, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1993), 276.

  44. Gordon Stafford to Colin Dunn, July 24, 1988, personal collection of the author.

  45. George C. Porter, November 13, 1991, personal collection of the author.

  46. Brian B. Scarbrough to Captain W. Bedner, March 23, 2004, personal collection of the author.

  47. “Aviation Engineer,” minutes of the Papua New Guinea Union Mission Officers Meeting, November 7, 1991, Papua New Guinea Union Mission Archives, Lae, Papua New Guinea.

  48. Robert Smith to ?, April 15, 1994.

  49. “Talair Grounded,” Pacific Islander Monthly, July 1993, 12.

  50. “Papua New Guinea Union Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1994 (Silver Spring, MD: Office of Archives and Statistics, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1994), 288.

  51. Trevor D. Robinson to Warwick Stokes, December 7, 1998, Papua New Guinea Union Mission Archives, Lae, Papua New Guinea.

  52. “Item 6.06,” Papua New Guinea Union Mission Aviation Advisory Committee Minutes, November 26, 1997, Papua New Guinea Union Mission Archives, Lae, Papua New Guinea; Les E. Anderson, “Curriculum Vitae—Les E. Anderson,” Adventist Aviation Association, Goroka, Papua New Guinea.

  53. TU-24 approximate total pay load 1,220 kilograms (kg.) (2,690 pounds [lbs.]) compared to turbo Cessna 206 total pay load of 575 kg. (1,268 lbs).

  54. S. V. O’Toole, Department of Transport Papua New Guinea Aircraft Accident Report File Reference AS.02.1002, Aircraft Accident Report (Port Moresby: Department of Transport PNG, June 21, 2002).

  55. Brian B. Scarborough to Captain W. Bedner, March 23, 2004, personal collection of the author.

  56. Jim Wagi, interview with the author, March 21, 2013.

  57. “Papua New Guinea Union Mission Adventist Aviation Services Review Taskforce Terms of Reference,” unpublished document, n.d., Papua New Guinea Adventist Aviation Service, Goroka, Papua New Guinea; “Final Report of AAS Task Force 2004,” unpublished document, n.d., Papua New Guinea Adventist Aviation Service files, Goroka, Papua New Guinea.

  58. Roger Millist, interview with the author, May 5, 2013, Kabiufa, Papua New Guinea.

  59. Ray Coombe, “PNG Mission Plane Flies Again,” Record, March 11, 2006, 30.

  60. Ibid.

  61. Minutes of the Papua New Guinea Mission Executive Committee, June 29, 2006, Pacific Adventist University Archives, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

  62. Adventist Aviation PNG Special Offering, July 1, 2006, pamphlet distributed to churches in Papua New Guinea in 2006.

  63. “The Thirteenth Sabbath Offering,” Record, March 3, 2007, 4.

  64. “Medal Man,” Adventist Record, October 4, 2014, 24.

  65. Jarrod Stackelroth, “AAS Engineer Burnt In Fuel Accident,” Record, February 16, 2013, 24.

  66. Minutes of the Adventist Aerial Joy Evangelistic Group: Operation Outreach, April 25, 1971, South Pacific Division Heritage Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia, AAA NNSW file.

  67. Lawrence Adair, “A Brief History of the A-Double-A, South Queensland," unpublished document, n.d., South Pacific Division Heritage Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia, AAA South Queensland file.

  68. Minutes of the Western Australia Conference Executive Committee, March 30, 1978, Western Australia Conference Archives, Perth, West Australia. Dates given for AAA start up usually used refer to when AAA came into a legal relationship with the local conference, not the start of their witnessing activity, which are used here.

  69. Brenton Stacey, “End of Aviation in Cooranbong,” Record, March 11, 2006, 3.

  70. Goldstone, Winchee, 172.

  71. Kristin Thiele, “Avondale School of Aviation Takes Off for 2009,” Record, January 31, 2009, 4.

×

Dunn, Colin. "Adventist Aviation in the South Pacific Division." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 09, 2021. Accessed September 23, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=H7RK.

Dunn, Colin. "Adventist Aviation in the South Pacific Division." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 09, 2021. Date of access September 23, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=H7RK.

Dunn, Colin (2021, January 09). Adventist Aviation in the South Pacific Division. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved September 23, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=H7RK.