July 27, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin - A
major feature of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2009 is recognizing those who
generously devote their flying abilities to make our world a better place.
The week-long program Fly for Life highlights public-benefit aviation and
mission-based flight operations. Among the activities planned is an
evening program at Theater in the Woods, Monday, July 27, starting at 9
p.m. moderated by former CNN Science Correspondent and Editor Miles
O’Brien. The program highlights the experiences of practitioners of
Sitting on the panel and
representing public benefit and mission aviation are Steve Saint, Gracia
Burnham, Peter J. VandenBosch, and Walt Fricke. They will talk about the
work they do, why they do it, and how they benefit.
Steve Saint is an aviation
missionary, author, and the son of missionary pilot Nate Saint. Nate, with
four other missionaries, was killed by Waodani Indians during an effort to
make peaceful contact with the tribe. After his father’s death, Steve
lived with the tribe and was ultimately baptized by two of his father’s
killers who had since converted to Christianity.
Gracia Burnham and her late
husband, Martin, served for the New Tribes Mission in the Philippines for
17 years when, while on vacation, a rebel group kidnapped them and held
them for more than a year. Martin was killed during an attempted rescue
raid undertaken by Philippine commandoes. Since then Gracia has written
two books and she and their two children remain actively involved in
After flying a person in need
to a distant medical facility, Peter J. VandenBosch realized he had the
means to help others in need so he founded Wings of Mercy in Holland,
Michigan, as a second career. The Wings of Mercy organization provides
general aviation aircraft to fly individuals with limited financial
resources to medical centers at no costs to the patient.
After Walt Fricke suffered
wounds while serving in the Vietnam War he found his morale going downhill
because his family was unable to be at his side. Realizing how important
family support is in the recovery process, Walt founded Veteran’s
Airlift Command to transport wounded service members home to their family,
or their families to them.
To learn more about Fly for
Life, humanitarian-flight organizations, and the others offering help and
hope to those in need, visit the Fly for Life tents located at the south
end of AeroShell Square.