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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Flying mission

TAKE OFF: One of the planes used in Kenya. John Piper will be making sure they are kept  in good condition

FOR many of us an appointment at the doctor does not involve much of a journey.

But it’s certainly a different prospect for people living in the dusty wasteland of Kenya who need to see a doctor in a hurry.

Many doctors, nurses and dentists have to fly in light aircraft to give lifesaving treatment to their patients.

Now one man from Kirkby plans to dedicate his life to helping the African nation’s frontline flying doctors.

John Piper will jet out on his African dream in May to maintain Cessna aircraft for the charity Mission Aviation Fellowship. The aircraft will be used by doctors, nurses and dentists.

The 24-year-old former Ulverston Victoria High School student has spent two-and-a-half years training in the United States for his role in Kenya.

Mr Piper, of Burlington Close, said: “I’ve wanted to do this since I was five-years-old and I hope to work with them for the rest of my career. I consider I’ll retire with them. I’m fully qualified to maintain the three main types of Cessna aircraft they use.

“MAF was started in 1945 by Christian ex-World War 2 pilots to fly doctors, dentists and rescue workers to otherwise inaccessible locations.”

Mr Piper first heard about MAF as a little boy at his local church and has remained determined to work for that charity which operates rather like Australia’s Flying Doctor Service.

MAF works in 30 countries, mainly in Africa and Bangladesh.

Mr Piper said: “They currently operate over 130 aircraft and have more daily flights to more destinations than any commercial airline.”

He will be on an eight-year contract with MAF. Showing sheer dedication, he will not receive a salary and instead must raise his own funds to keep him in Kenya.

Mr Piper is engaged to his fiancee Vicky, from Ohio, United States and hopes to marry next year. His mum Liz Piper still lives in his family home in Burlington Close.

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