By Ralph Kurtenbach, Special to ASSIST News Service
MORETECOCHA, ECUADOR (ANS, April 10, 2017) — Three people were injured when a plane operated by Alas de Socorro Ecuador, (ADSE) crashed Wednesday, March 29 after takeoff in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador in South America. ADSE is the Ecuadorian affiliate of the U.S.-based mission agency, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).
When the Quest Aircraft Kodiak 9-passenger plane struck a river bed near Moretecocha in Ecuador’s eastern province of Pastaza, the pilot, Captain José Daniel Soria, and two of his six passengers sustained injuries, according to the Dirección General de Aviación Civil (DGAC) of Ecuador.
Initial medical care was provided Hospital General in Puyo, with the two passengers released after treatment. Soria, who suffered a fractured pelvis upon impact, was subsequently transferred from the Puyo facility to Hospital Metropolitano in Quito. He is under the care of Dr. Leonardo Febres, an orthopedic surgeon who accompanied a Reach Beyond disaster response team to Haiti after a devastating earthquake in January 2010.
DGAC began its investigation a day after the crash at Moretecocha. “As always it is difficult due to the runway conditions and more so, the weather conditions [at Moretecocha],” said DGAC accident investigator Carlos Segura, before boarding a plane with six other specialists headed out for field investigation at the remote air strip. His team hopes to issue a preliminary accident report in three weeks, with a complete investigation possibly taking months.
In a letter to financial donors, Linda McFarland of Shell asked people to pray for MAF missionaries and the Ecuadorian staff “for God’s peace to fill them, and for His wisdom to guide them through this [the investigation].) Eight days earlier her husband, Ian, of Reach Beyond Community Development, had been on the Kodiak for a flight to another jungle community.
The Kodiak was specifically developed by Quest Aircraft Company to meet the needs of missionary aviators. It is a STOL (short takeoff and landing) aircraft, able to use nearly all of the 200 rain forest communities served by the mission aviation agency.
Some of the Kodiak planes have been produced under the Quest Mission Team (QMT) program, and several have been delivered to such organizations as MAF and Jungle Aviation and Radio Service (JAARS). Delivered to ADSE’s hangar in Shell in 2017, the Quest Kodiak has made numerous flights to the jungle.
Capable of crossing the Andes, the plane was also used in response to medical emergencies following an earthquake that struck Ecuador’s coastal provinces in April 2016.
ADSE has been flying the skies of Ecuador since 1948, when MAF missionary pilot Nate Saint established a base at Shell. Coupling his work with sharing the gospel of Christ, Saint transported tons of building materials, food, fuel and other supplies to remote mission stations. He died with four other missionaries in a spearing attack in early 1956.
Ecuador’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has certified ADSE, its mechanics and pilots, as an air taxi operator and as an Approved Maintenance Organization.
About 20 years ago on September 14, 1997, a Cessna 185 plane slammed into a 9,500-foot mountain between Shell and Baños, killing ADSE’s Job Orellana, his brother, Walter, and MAF pilot Dan Osterhus. The pilots had been involved in a search-and-rescue mission to locate a commercial Cessna airplane, which had crashed in the same region a day earlier, killing its two occupants.
Photo captions: 1) The pilot and two of his passengers were injured but nobody was killed with an MAF plane crashed near the jungle community of Moretecocha. (Photo used with permission of Eco Amazonico – ecoamazonico.org). 2) Aerial view of plane crash site. (Photo used with permission of Eco Amazonico – ecoamazonico.org). 3) Ralph Kurtenbach
About the writer: Ralph Kurtenbach and his wife, Kathy, have lived in Ecuador since 1992, where they minister with Reach Beyond. Ralph works as a writer and helps to mentor Latinos who want to join in taking the gospel to other parts of the world. Ralph and Kathy have four children. His e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org .
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