By Steve Bertel
What began as an aviation tragedy has turned into a blessing for the Nampa-based Mission Aviation Fellowship and the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In March 2011, a tornado ripped through the “Sun ‘n Fun” International Fly-in and Expo, damaging many aircraft — including a Cessna Grand Caravan owned by a Florida family. The plane, with distinctive zebra-stripe accents on its cargo pod and interior, was flipped over and sustained extensive damage.
Two years later, the aircraft has been repaired and is now beginning a new life as a missionary plane in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mission Aviation Fellowship was able to purchase the aircraft through donations given to the organization.
On Friday, MAF will dedicate the new plane for service in Africa. The ceremony is scheduled to be held in the aircraft hangar at MAF headquarters, 107 N. Pilatus Lane in Nampa, near Airport Road and Happy Valley Road.
With its fleet of 57 light aircraft, MAF provides transportation for churches, medical teams, missionaries, relief agencies and others working in the most isolated corners of the world. Its headquarters is in Nampa, Idaho. MAF has been working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for more than fifty years.