Skydivers, Short Takeoffs and Landings, and More

By Rachel Greco

Come see us at AirVenture July 24-30! Click here to see where and when to find us.

Have you ever seen skydivers jump out of a plane, sprinkling across the sky thousands of feet above the earth like confetti?

At this year’s AirVenture—the world’s largest air show—hosted by EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, JAARS will use our Pilatus PC-6 Porter as the jump plane for skydivers every day. This will be the first time we’ve flown skydivers at the air show in about five years.

Mike Mower, a member of the JAARS Missions at the Airport team who flew skydivers at AirVenture in 2017, said, “Normally when you fly to open an air show, you go up to about 3,000 feet. Then the skydivers jump out. They drop out immediately and pop their chutes so they’re not spending much time in freefall.”

Sometimes an aerobatic airplane will circle the jumpers as they’re coming down. Once, Mike took skydivers in web-sleeved wingsuits up to 10,000 feet to give them more time to fly in their suits.

JAARS is grateful to again be flying skydivers at AirVenture—an event that we’ve participated in for about 50 years. Bob Griffin, a JAARS pilot who served in the Philippines and Ecuador, was the first person to go. He flew a Helio Courier—nicknamed Ol’ Number 1—in the air show for the skydivers.

Besides flying skydivers at this year’s air show, JAARS will also perform a mission aviation-focused demonstration flight of the Pilatus PC-6 Porter, display our Helio Courier named Toña, demonstrate our innovative software, FlightSpan™, show our documentary, Whatever it Takes, The First 75 Years of JAARS, and more! See the full list of the JAARS events, times, and locations here.

The aircraft you might see if you visit us at AirVenture this year include:

The Pilatus PC-6 Porter that will be flying skydivers daily.

Pilatus PC-6 Porter

Thanks to the Pilatus Porter’s short takeoff and landing performance, it can operate in areas normally reachable only by helicopters. In Papua, Indonesia, our aviation partner, YAJASI, uses PC-6 aircraft to fly over some of the most rugged terrain in the world, providing transportation to remote people groups who otherwise live in isolation.

The PC-6 aircraft that will be at AirVenture this year, N365BT, came to JAARS in 2003 to test underwing cargo pods. In 2015, it became one of our training aircraft.

On Saturday at AirVenture, it will be parked at Boeing Plaza for people to see up close. Come hear its story!

Helio Courier Toña

Donations from a diverse group of churches and foundations in Ohio enabled JAARS to buy this Helio new from the factory in 1972. It was flown to Ecuador, South America, to support Bible translation, literacy, medical, and community development projects for more than a decade. In 1996, the aircraft was refurbished and shipped to serve with YAJASI. In 2011, YAJASI returned the plane to JAARS to replace our Helio Courier that had been destroyed by a tornado at the Sun ‘n Fun Expo in Lakeland, Florida.

This year, the Helio was overhauled and repainted to match its original colors, and it was dedicated at the JAARS 75th anniversary celebration. Its Ecuadorian name, Toña, was added in memory of a young Waodani man who was martyred while sharing the gospel with his unsaved relatives.

You can see Toña at the JAARS exhibit in the Main Aircraft Display area and hear more stories of how God used it to share the gospel to the ends of the earth!

The Helio Courier named Toña that served in Ecuador, South America.


Helio Courier N87763

The Helio Courier N87763 that was originally nicknamed the Snow Goose.

Originally nicknamed the Snow Goose because of its all-white paint job, this aircraft was built as a military model U-10B for the U.S. Air Force. It was assigned to a training squadron at Hurlburt Field, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, where it was used to train pilots who would fly U-10s in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.

After the Air Force retired the aircraft, JAARS obtained it and in 1985 converted it to a civilian model.

JAARS used the aircraft as a test bed for aerodynamic modifications that were certified by the FAA and used on other JAARS Helios. Following a complete overhaul and refurbishment in 2018, N87763 entered the JAARS training fleet and is used to prepare pilots for missionary service.

Stop by “Vintage in Review” Monday through Wednesday to see this unique aircraft. It will be featured in the Vintage Review flight during the showcase segment of the airshow on Thursday.


R66 Helicopter

The turbine-powered R66 helicopter.

JAARS supports three helicopter operations: one R66 at the JAARS Base in Waxhaw, North Carolina; another R66 with SIL Cameroon Aviation in Africa; and two Bell Long Rangers with SIL-Papua New Guinea Aviation in the Asia-Pacific area.

Helicopters can transport Bible translators and their supplies to remote village work locations in rainforests, on mountains or on islands where it’s impossible to build runways. They can save hours, or even days, of travel by foot or boat to reach these locations.

This turbine-powered R66 came to the JAARS fleet in 2021, replacing a piston-powered R44 helicopter. It enables our aviation training staff to better equip missionary pilots who will be flying R66s overseas.

Come see the R66 at the JAARS exhibit in the Main Aircraft Display area and hear stories from its pilots who have served overseas.


The Cessna 206 that is an expert at short takeoffs and landings.

Cessna 206

This Cessna is capable of long-range flight, short takeoffs and landings, and carrying substantial loads of people or cargo. A modification allows for even slower approach speeds and reduced takeoff and landing distances. The aircraft has also been converted with the JAARS energy-absorbing safety seats for greater crashworthiness. It is used to train missionary pilots preparing to serve overseas.

You’ll be able to see it at general aircraft camping.

We hope to see you at AirVenture this year!


Not able to attend AirVenture? You can livestream some of the events on the EAA website here or listen to the interview about the Helio’s history by JAARS on the EAA AirVenture radio station.