Nancy Hansen addressing supporters. Photo by Perry Wilson

Missionary plane dedicated at Ponoka, Lacombe airports

MiracleAir flies humanitarian missions to Nicaragua

By Perry Wilson

Ponoka and Lacombe airports recently hosted dedication events for a missionary plane dubbed ‘Bush Hawk,’ for charity project MiracleAir.

The Hansen family, who are behind the project, were in Ponoka on Sept. 19 and in Lacombe on Sept. 20.

What does the Ponoka airport have to do with remote villages of southeast coastal Nicaragua? The story began when Nancy Hansen and her husband Norman decided to not do what many of her fellow Nicaraguans have done — leave home and never return.

Instead the couple answered what they considered God’s call to help Nicaraguan villagers. They operated an airbase from where Norman could fly a simple aircraft to wherever help was needed and there was an airstrip.

He did an airdrop of medicine to counter snake venom, to save a life where there was no place he could land his aircraft.

For three years they operated this way, before feeling they should do more.

Because of Nancy’s local connections, they were able to meet with the governor who quickly recognized their passion for helping.

On the map he pointed at what he called an “un-reached area” populated by Indigenous peoples. Norman could see there were no roads and knew it would be a job for an aircraft.

When he asked where the airstrips are, the governor shook his head. The plane must land on water: rivers, bays, lagoons.

The governor wrote a letter of introduction which he gave to the Hansens and Jud Wickwire, who had joined them from Kelowna, to provide his background as a missionary pilot.

They were given the use of a high powered open boat and the governor’s personal captain to explore the region. They only had to pay for the fuel ($1,000).

It soon became evident how much better air transport would be. The water is often very rough so you must hold on to something solid.

Imagine you urgently need hospital care so you’re doing a five-hour trip while being rained on and beaten by the wind and waves. It was obvious a float-plane that could do it in 45 minutes would save lives and drastically reduce misery.

Doubts of the locals were assuaged when they saw the governor’s letter.

Nancy added that “When you show the love of Jesus in action, people are very accepting. The plane provides fast transportation to medical care, spreading hope, love and joy.”

Back in Canada, Norman and Nancy took stock. They had no money, no float plane, no vehicle or house in Nicaragua and no name for the organization they needed to create.

“Then things began to fall in place, as pieces of a puzzle” said Curtis Letniak, who is on board with this project and is no stranger to humanitarian organization endeavours in Cambodia and elsewhere.

Fast forward eight months and MiracleAir (Spanish: Aeromilagros) is a fully functional organization which has an aircraft that seats five including the pilot; it has amphibious floats so it can land on a runway or on water.

Seats can be removed for loading a stretcher. This plane was designed and built by the Found Aircraft Company in Ontario for use in Canada’s north country, and Found appropriately called this model the Bush Hawk.

Norman and Nancy flew it through the heavy smoke from Kelowna to Ponoka Sept. 17 in time for the dedication services.

Children were able to climb into the Bush Hawk and dream of being pilots and local supporters were happy to admire it.

Thanks were given to the Ponoka and Lacombe Flying Clubs for hosting.

During the ceremonies, it was announced that the need for a second pilot has been met. Keith and Jennifer La Roy have joined MiracleAir. Now the team is complete.

After some enhancement work is done on the floats, the Bush Hawk will be pointed south to help many people in need.

For videos and more information, please see miracleair.org.

airportsLacombePonoka

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Jud Wickwire explains Bush Hawk’s features. Photo by Perry Wilson

Found Aircraft Company ‘Bush Hawk.’ Photo by Perry Wilson

Just Posted

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

RCMP. (Black Press File Photo)
Calgary man dies in two-vehicle collision near Sylvan Lake

A semi truck collided with a SUV just east of Hwy. 781 on Hwy 11.

Shaelynn Decock and her dog Taco, who has been missing since Aug. 26. Photo Submitted
Sylvan Lake woman looking for closure for her stolen dog

Shaelynn Decock says it has been two months since she last saw her dog Taco

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Central zone active cases at 145

Jay “Chef” Scotian poses for a photo in his new location in Sylvan Lake. Eat Coast Market and Grill will be holding a “Donations for Donairs” fundraiser for Haley Wile on Oct. 24. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
Sylvan Lake business fundraising for local woman paralyzed in car accident

Haley Wile was in a serious car accident which left her paralyzed from the waist down

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

From l-r., first lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden on stage at the conclusion of the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Trump, Biden fight over the raging virus, climate and race

Republican president declared the virus, which killed more than 1,000 Americans on Thursday alone, will “go away.”

JJ Collett Natural Area Foundation held its AGM on Oct. 19 at the Ponoka Legion. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
De-listing Alberta parks creates ‘risk’ for coal mining: CPAWS

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society speaks at JJ Collett AGM

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Temporary COVID-19 testing sites coming to Wetaskiwin and Ponoka

The Wetaskiwin location will open Oct. 23, 2020 and the Ponoka location will open Oct. 29.

ACC President and CEO Ken Kobly spoke to Ponoka Chamber of Commerce members over Zoom on Oct. 20. (Image: screenshot)
Alberta chambers are ‘411’ to members, government: ACC president

Changes to government supports, second wave and snap election

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

Most Read