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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedAviation humanitarians tell their stories
By Kristy Hemp, EAA AirVenture Today

Steve Saint

Gracia Burnham

Walt Fricke

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 humanitarian aviation.

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 mission aviation.

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.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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