NAMPA, Idaho — Mission Aviation Fellowship is adding to its fleet.
The humanitarian organization based in Nampa held a dedication ceremony Wednesday for a new airplane that will serve people in the eastern half of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The airplane, a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, will take off Thursday for a 10-day trip to reach its final destination in the village of Nyankunde near the border of Uganda.
"We are excited to dedicate this airplane for its work in the Congo, an area we have been serving in since 1966" said MAF president and CEO David Holsten. "There are so many needs in this part of the country. The people there have been ravaged by Ebola, as well as other medical challenges, and have faced violence and destruction due to tribal conflict and political upheaval. Travel by road is difficult and dangerous and this airplane will meet many, many, needs."
The aircraft is a rebuilt 2012 Cessna Grand Caravan. MAF was able to buy the plane for just over $1.5 million with donations.
"We were certainly blessed to find this aircraft that was a perfect fit for where it is needed. So many people stepped up with donations to purchase this aircraft that will be of great help to others," Holsten said.
MAF is retiring a Cessna Caravan bought new in 1985 after 25,000 of service. Holsten said that plane has served them well.
The new aircraft can carry up to 12 passengers, or 2,400 pounds of cargo. It will be used for medical evacuations, delivering doctors, healthcare workers, vaccines and medical equipment to remote clinics.
The Grand Caravan will join a fleet of two other aircraft at their base in Nyankunde.
Mission Aviation Fellowship was founded in 1945 by World War II pilots who had a vision for using aviation to spread the gospel. Since that time, MAF has grown to a global family of organizations serving in 37 countries across Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Indonesia, and Latin America, responding to humanitarian needs around the world.