The first airplane brought into the Trans' Africa Division arrived late in 1960. It was a Cessna 180 secured by the efforts of R. L. Osmunson, who at that time was Missionary Volunteer and home missionary secretary of the Trans-Africa Division.
This aircraft was registered as VP-YTA, later 7Q-YTA, and was assigned to the Congo Union because of the difficult political situation there. During a good share of 1961 it was instrumental in keeping Songa Hospital open. It was used for the transportation of personnel and supplies during the time when the roads were blocked by rebel activity.
At the end of 1961 VP-YTA was in Elisabethville when the United NationsKatanga war took place. It was damaged slightly, but was flown out to Ndola in what was then known as Northern Rhodesia.
As the work at Songa was closed temporarily, this aircraft was reassigned to the South-East Africa Union and was based at Malamulo. It has been used since that time as a means of transport in Malawi, and especially as a means of getting the doctor, and later the dentist as well, to the various dispensaries we run in Malawi. It has also served very well as a flying ambulance and has been called on frequently by many different people, including those who are high in government service.
The second plane in the Trans-Africa Division was brought into use in the Congo Union when the work was reopened there. This aircraft, also a Cessna 180, registered 9Q-CTA, was purchased in July, 1964, and has been used in the Congo ever since. With the continued political unrest there, it has been very valuable in providing a means of emergency transport, especially between Lubumbashi and Songa, and also to the other missions farther north in the Congo. At the present time we are not allowed to use this aircraft, but we are negotiating with the present government for permission to put it into service again.
The third aircraft brought to Trans-Africa is a Cessna 182 and is registered 9RJFF. This aircraft was brought to Africa last year by Dr. Ray Foster, who is stationed at Mwami Hospital. Dr. Foster is starting a leper rehabilitation program at Mwami with an extension of this service initially to Malamulo and Yuka hospitals. Thus the aircraft is very valuable in this field, allowing Dr. Foster to get back and forth to these institutions. We hope to extend our service later to other leprosy centers in the division.
The most recent addition to our fleet of aircraft is a new Cessna 185, which has been registered as 7Q-YDP and will replace the 7Q-YTA in service in Malawi. The plan is that the original Cessna 180, which has served for seven years, will be reassigned to some other part of the division. Botswana and East Africa have been considered as locations for this aircraft.