Wings Over Nicaragua Mission
What we do

What is a day like as a missionary pilot working in a 3rd world country? First of all, I can assure you, it isn’t like going to work every day at the same job in America 8 AM to 5 PM. I worked for a decade that way, and I had a good boss and a job I enjoyed, quite stable. I like the unexpected, but sometimes here I wish life could be more stable, maybe halfway between.

My wife is a nurse and we have 2 small children. We live in North East Nicaragua 40 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean in a pine savanna. From this central location we offer medical evacuation services to small communities up and down the Rio Coco river, which is the border of Honduras and Nicaragua.

Cell phones do not work here, our only communication for 2 1/2 years was via ham radio. Now we have a satellite dish and have Internet. Our only electricity comes from our solar panels combined with a small hydroelectric plant I built. This electricity keeps 2 radios running 12 hours a day that tie us to the local communities throughout this area of Nicaragua. When one of those radio’s crackle to life, we run upstairs to answer it. It is usually an emergency in some community and the local doctor or nurse is requesting our help to evacuate a patient. As soon as the help is requested, I look around at the sky and see if it is a flyable day. I also check the weather radar via Internet. There is no use getting myself killed trying to help someone, ending the help we offer for the rest of our time here. If it looks fine to go, I quickly go to the airplane 300 feet from our house and start getting it ready. To untie the ropes, take the covers off the windows, and preflight it takes about 10 minutes. When the radio tells us a stretcher is required, it takes a few more minutes to take out the passenger seat and install the stretcher. Often my wife helps me get the airplane ready. When it is ready, I change my clothes. In the Latin culture it is important to be professional so I wear a flight uniform. I depart from the spot where the airplane is tied, and taxi up our road to the runway. I am in constant communication with my wife via radio as I fly. All flights in this area are within 45 minutes each way, but that often takes 1 to 2 days via boat, usually the only method of transportation.

The patient is usually ready at the airstrip, and I am normally on the ground less than 10 minutes. I then carry the patient to the hospital, usually meeting the hospital ambulance (normally a 4x4 Toyota Landcruiser) on the runway. Often both the village where I pick up the patient and the hospital runway are covered with cows, pigs, horses, and kids and require several passes before the people get them cleared of animals.

I am usually on the ground a very short time meeting the ambulance, and then back to home. Flying only happens once or twice a week, what happens the other times? That depends on the financial situation and what projects are currently underway. Usually there is mechanic work or construction. I am always working away on something on our house, on maintaining our truck, the plane, or the village well pump. Sometimes we are working on building or renovating a church, or someone’s house who is too poor to afford the materials and labor.

Life is neither glamorous nor comfortable. The first 2 ½ years we had no running water in our house and used an outhouse. We really appreciated an indoor bathroom when we got it. Dealing with the government officials is always frustrating, and the local people often want more than we can offer. But even with those challenges, this is one of the most fulfilling and interesting places to live. In what other line of work can you walk down the main street in your town and point out the people whose lives you have saved simply with transportation. God gives us a sense of fulfillment and happiness that is not available in any other line of work when we offer all our skills and services to Him. Even though life is not always the most comfortable or stable, the safest place to be is in the center of His plan.   

Clint Hanley - Wings Over Nicaragua

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Wings Over Nicaragua Mission
185 Harris Road
Goldendale, WA 98620
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