Flying the Archbishop of Canterbury

Posted: on May 22, 2013

Story by By Katie Machell

“A huge challenge”, “really enjoyable”, and “full of variety: no two days are the same”; these phrases 26655_300could easily describe the work of a MAF pilot. They are in fact the words of Justin Welby, first-time passenger with MAF and 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, describing his new role.

Archbishop Welby and his wife Caroline, together with his Secretary for Anglican Communion Affairs Joanna Udal, and Eliud Wabukala, the Archbishop of Kenya, engaged the services of MAF Kenya to fly them to Dodoma, Tanzania for the installation of the country’s new archbishop. On a beautifully sunny afternoon, ably captained by pilot Adrian Rose, they enjoyed a smooth trip in a PC12, and were even able to catch a brief glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro on the way.

Thanks to a gap year spent in Kenya and his previous work in the oil industry, the Archbishop is a seasoned traveller in Africa, remembering particularly well his experiences as a passenger on the small planes that fly around Nigeria. He was reassured by Programme Manager Ian Sinkinson that his trip with MAF should be significantly less hair-raising!

26660_300He was not really aware of the work of MAF prior to this trip, and was very interested to learn more from Ian, about both the local and international work of the organisation; he was also presented with a copy of MAF Co-Founder Stuart King’s ‘Hope Has Wings’ book in order to discover more of the story at his leisure.

During the flight, the Archbishop shared something of the challenges he faces in his role, the biggest of which he described as “working out what not to do”. The prioritisation of need, especially when it appears so overwhelming, always presents a struggle, as no doubt every MAF Programme Manager and Operations Director would also attest to.

On arrival in Dodoma, the Archbishop and his party stepped onto the tarmac to a colourful, tuneful greeting headed up by the outgoing Archbishop of Tanzania, complete with a long receiving line and a group of local dancers. Of his experience with MAF, Archbishop Welby said, “It has been an eye-opener. I had no idea of the scale or effectiveness of what you do. I am very struck by the extremely clear spirituality of it.”


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