Mike Mower, EAA 841809
Affiliated Organization: JAARS-An
organization founded in 1948 as the Jungle Aviation and Radio Service
and often referred to as J.A.A.R.S. In 1986 they dropped the acronym and
became known simply as "JAARS."
Type/model aircraft operated in mission
or public benefit flying? Where is most of your flying activity?
I flew Helio Couriers, a Super Cub and an Aero Commander 500B in the
Philippines. I also had the opportunity to ferry a Helio Courier to
Cameroon where it is used in mission service today. Presently, I am a
representative for JAARS flying the Helio Courier in our Missions at the
Airport program around the country, as well as flying STOL demonstrations
in air shows and airport open house events.
When did you become involved in mission
or public benefit flying and why?
I became involved in mission flying early in my flying career after
hearing a mission pilot speak in my home church. I was in flight training
for my private pilots license at the time. After that all of my flight and
A&P training was in preparation to become a mission pilot. I joined
JAARS in 1981 and was assigned to the Philippines from 1984 to 2004. I
chose mission aviation as a career because of my love of flying, my desire
to serve others, and my love for God. Mission aviation allowed me to use
my gifts, talents, and life experience in service to the Lord and others.
What is the most memorable flight you
have ever had and why?
First would be the three weeks of flying in support of relief efforts
following the 1990 Baguio
earthquake in the northern Philippines. With almost all roads closed
by landslides, our flight program in the north - with one Helio Courier
and a Hiller helicopter - was overwhelmed with requests to fly people
to/from Manila and Baguio. I took our Aero Commander from our southern
flight program to the north and flew relief supplies, medical teams and
refugees in a triangle between Manila, Baguio, and Bagabag, our northern
support center. Flying from sunrise to sunset I never knew where I might
Some days our two airplanes and helicopter
were the only aircraft to get in to Baguio. Our pilots were very familiar
with the mountains and low-level routes and could often reach the stricken
city when other aircraft could not. I remember being cleared for landing
at the Baguio airport listening to USAF, Marine, and Philippine Air Force
C-130 pilots holding above the clouds asking the tower how that guy got
through the weather.
Other memorable flights included medical
and peace and order evacuation flights and serving local government
Of course, as a mission pilot I will always
remember the flights in support of Bible dedication celebrations after the
completion of translation projects. To fly boxes of Bibles and outside
guests to the location of a dedication celebration was always a joy. When
a people group receives the Word of God in their own language for the
first time there is a very real sense of excitement and expectation. Many
of the dedications were for languages that had never been written before
the arrival of the missionary translators.
What would you like EAA members to know
about the type of flying you do?
Mission flying brings life, both physical and spiritual, to very remote
people groups. It is challenging, exciting and very rewarding.
I remember the time one of our Helio
Couriers was damaged on a remote island following a landing gear
structural failure. The airplane had flown many people off the island for
medical emergencies. I went to the island to affect aircraft repairs and
ferry it home for permanent repairs. I was stopped on the trail by an old
woman who thrust 37 Philippine pesos, about $0.85, into my hand. This was
all of the money she had, and she wanted to use it to help repair the
airplane. I must say that when I turned away from her to continue down the
trail it was with tears in my eyes. Mission aviation is satisfying and
Why is the Fly For Life program
important to EAA AirVenture 2009 attendees?
It is so easy to get caught up in the daily grind of life, especially in
these difficult economic times. Our focus turns inward. Fly for Life
will allow others to see ways they can use their passion flight in service