EAA AirVenture Oshkosh- the world’s largest general aviation gathering- had over 600,000 attendees, including people from 93 countries. Yet, among the crowd, unique Michigan aviation ties were discovered.
Samaritan Aviation, a true humanitarian aviation gem, was stationed at EAA Seaplane Base during this year’s 70th anniversary celebration of AirVenture.
Seaplane Base, which showcases water aircraft, is located five miles southeast of the main AirVenture grounds, along the shores of Lake Winnebago.
Among the forested cove of Seaplane Base, Samaritan Aviation’s booth stood out. This growing organization uses their floatplanes to provide medical transportation and life-saving flights to the only hospital for 500,000 people in the East Sepik province of Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea is the second largest island in the world.
In 1994, CEO/Co-Founder Mark Palm and a friend traveled to Papua New Guinea when he was 19 years old. After several weeks of traveling through the country and seeing the spiritual and medical needs, they felt called to establish an aviation medical service.
Samaritan Aviation (SA) was founded in 2000 and in 2010 Mark and his family launched full-time aviation operations for SA in Papua New Guinea.
Samaritan Aviation provides not only life flights, but also community health programs, vaccine clinics, disaster relief, medicine delivery, and hospital ministry.
At Oshkosh AirVenture Seaplane Base, Samaritan Aviation missionary team member Jennifer Visser shared that her and her family are originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her husband Case felt called to become a missionary pilot/mechanic after seventeen years partnered with his father in the family’s heating, cooling, and air conditioning business. He trained to become a pilot through the School of Missionary Aviation Technology in Ionia, MI.
In 2022, the Vissers and their four children took a step of faith from West Michigan to the mission field of Papua New Guinea, serving for six months. They hope to get back to the field by June 2024.
Samaritan Aviation is a Christian nonprofit based out of Mesa, Arizona. They rely on donations to accomplish their mission of showing God’s love through aviation and medical services in the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea.
Currently, Samaritan Aviation is doing a capital campaign for their Papua New Guinea (PNG) mission. They want to expand their emergency medical flight services in the East Sepik province, in addition to the request by the PNG government to launch their ministry in the Gulf province.