Just a Phase?

By Rachel Greco

Annie Kate’s parents thought her fascination with aircraft was just a phase. During her high school years, they sent her to the Brigade Air camp hosted by JAARS in 2012, hoping it would slake her desire to serve as a mission pilot. Their plan backfired.  

Annie Kate loved every single day of the camp, from riding in the planes to listening to missionaries’ firsthand experiences and tinkering with aircraft parts. “This solidified and changed the direction I was taking. Before that I wasn’t really sure exactly if mission aviation was what I wanted to do.”

Brigade Air implements a Christian mentoring curriculum and mission aviation program nationwide to encourage young people to consider serving in mission aviation. With your help, JAARS has had the privilege of providing a hangar, runway, classrooms, housing, and food to Brigade Air staff and participants every year for the last several years.

Annie Kate completed her initial flight training at Louisiana Tech University. She hopes to eventually serve as a JAARS-trained pilot overseas. Because of the Brigade Air camp and serving with other JAARS-trained pilots as an aviation intern in Papua New Guinea for a summer, “JAARS feels like family; they’ve been supportive and encouraging. And the work they’re supporting—Bible translation—I want to [help with] that.”

Annie Kate and some the Brigade Air students wipe down one of the planes

At the Brigade Air camp hosted at JAARS this summer, Annie Kate volunteered by flying the ten teenage participants all week, grabbing more flight hours for her path to mission aviation.

During the week-long camp, the teenagers learned about meteorology, theory of flight, cross-country maneuvers, flight environment, and more. When they weren’t learning in the classroom, they tried out the flight simulator, grasped the aircraft’s yoke—steering control— while Annie Kate and the other volunteer pilot remained in control, and made aircraft ribs out of sheet metal.

Samuel, who lives in Slovenia, attended the camp while visiting his grandparents. “The flight simulator was fun because I liked the pressure and stress,” he said. “You have to watch every instrument.” He’s not sure if he wants to be a pilot, so this camp is his window into the world of mission aviation.

The students also had the opportunity to plan and chart cross-country routes for the aircraft, then used the charts to direct the pilots there. “I felt accomplished when I saw the river down there,” a student said after his cross-country flight.

Annie Kate doing a pre-flight inspection with Brigade Air participants at JAARS

Annie Kate enjoyed seeing other campers who are interested in the same things she was in 2012 and getting to share insights and her new skills with them. She loved watching their passion and confidence grow. On the first day, they were shy and didn’t know what questions to ask. But toward the end of the week, during the cross-country ride, they held the yoke, asked good questions, and knew where they were going.

JAARS aircraft mechanic Don van den Berg helps a Brigade Air student make an airplane rib.

Who knows? Perhaps some of these participants will join Annie Kate some day in soaring over the jungles of Papua New Guinea or Brazil in a few years, transporting Bible translators to those who need God’s Word.

Please consider giving to our Core Operations fund so we can continue providing the next generation with glimpses into the window of mission aviation.