Perhaps our title, borrowed from Revelation 14:6, is somewhat literalistic for the theme of this editorial. In this issue we are honoring those of our ministerial-medical forces who use planes in their work. The first denominationally owned aircraft was put into use in Alaska during World War II, and the first pilot of this plane was Elder H. L. Wood. He was the idol of many a young Seventh-day Adventist boy's heart. His fame succeeded in attracting a good attendance at a camp meeting. Since his time, the use of airplanes in our work has grown rather slowly—in fact, far too slowly. Arguments ranging from risky to recreational have been generated against them. Yet, every argument used could be applied against bicycles, autos, trains, buses, and boats!
The world and other church organizations are jets ahead of us. In the United States alone live 548,000 licensed pilots. Fifteen per cent of these are women. More than 105,000 U.S. private citizens own their own planes. Air travel is so established that a single jetliner now carries more passengers between Europe and America than the largest ocean liner in a summer season. We have been quite hesitant in believing that God "has caused that the means of rapid traveling shall have been invented, for the great day of His preparation" (Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 409).
The purpose of private plane travel in our work is to provide the missing link of swift transportation in areas where near impenetrable distances hinder the spread of the gospel or halt any medical aid to those who desperately need it.
A few years ago Dick Hall with his Cessna opened our first church in Laos. He flew in materials to build the church. The political situation was such that he was eventually forced to leave, but he left a tiny toehold for Adventism. This mission would have been virtually impossible without a plane.
Planes are saving months of precious time every year in some areas. Bob Sea-mount and Clyde Peters in South America can reach scores of outposts in a short time using air power compared to a handful reached by other means. Last year Dave Hensel, South American Division engineer, flew several of us in his Cessna to a special meeting. Regular airlines were on strike! A real blessing in an hour of need!
Priceless Public Relations
From a public relations standpoint planes are priceless. Just let one of our pilots fly over a jungle in New Guinea, or some other primitive area, and the whole countryside knows who he is and what he stands for. Dick Gates in Bolivia used his aircraft as a dispenser of handbills over a town, advertising his evangelistic meetings. The meetings were a success! From a medical viewpoint, numerous stories and pictures are on file showing people who would not be alive today had it not been for these winged chariots of mercy.
Some of our planes are self-supporting. This simply means the missionary owner must fly a certain amount for pay. The local missions in these cases are unable to finance the entire project. This presents a definite danger. A man's time is divided between flying for the cause of God and flying for the cause of money in order to keep going. These situations need to be studied and corrected if at all possible. A missionary pilot's time and energy can quickly go down the drain of commercialism.
To sum it up, we pay tribute to those around the world who are active pilots in and for the cause of God. We pray for the quick increase of their tribe. It is past time for the church to get up in the air in more than one way!