The United States is home to 189 million Christians, the largest Christian population on Earth. Christian aviators who are members of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) of Redlands, California, fly 80,000 flights annually from 30 bases in 18 countries. Founded in 1945 by group of World War II pilots, Mission Aviation Fellowship shares the love of Jesus Christ through aviation and technology, bringing food, medicine and spiritual teachings to people around the world. MAF pilots presently serve 32 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Eurasia and Latin America. MAF pilots fly medical, disaster, community and religious-based educational missions to assist in the development of indigenous people.
There is no established median income for missionary aviation pilots. The 2010-11 Edition of the Bureau Of Labor Statistics Opportunity Handbook advises that median annual wages of commercial pilots were $65,340 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $45,680 and $89,540. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,020, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $129,580. MAF salaried pilots typically rank in the lowest 10 percent. Salaries are paid by religious and humanitarian organizations dependent on donations for funding. Although compensation is low, MAF pilots are provided housing and meals.
Some large humanitarian relief organizations may hire pilots on a salaried basis; however, the majority of pilots volunteer their time. MAF pilots donate vacation or retirement time to fly critical missions around the world. Many MAF pilots rely on financial support from their family, friends and church. The pilot gains experience and builds flight hours while practicing Christian charity in a compassionate and spiritually rewarding manner.
A Career With MAF
MAF offers career opportunities for pilots with a commercial pilot license with instrument rating and a minimum of 1,000 flight hours. In addition, 200 hours of high performance flight time and 100 hours of instrument experience are required. Candidates with Certified Flight Instructor Instrument ratings and extensive turbine experience are preferred.
Missionary pilots fly over mountains, deserts, oceans and jungles to reach isolated populations. Churches, medical missionaries and humanitarian relief organizations depend on MAF pilots to quickly bring personnel, medical supplies, tools, seeds and food to remote villages. In many locations to which they fly, air transport is the only feasible method of transportation. Missionary pilots are called to perform medical evacuations of critically ill or injured people.
Characteristics of an MAF Pilot
Missionary Aviation Fellowship pilots are required to have the same credentials, training and licenses as commercial pilots. In addition to having the necessary flight credentials, MAF pilots should have considerable aircraft mechanic skills. Many flight plans carry the craft to remote and inaccessible locations without mechanical services. The pilot should be physically fit and able to load, refuel and service the aircraft. A faith-based dedication to humanitarian relief, a willingness to work long and unpredictable hours and an ability to travel to areas of severe poverty or natural disaster provide the dedication to pursue this challenging segment of aviation. Not for the faint-hearted, missionary aviation is often dangerous.