Humanitarian missions featured at AirVenture

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 4:12 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - Humanitarian aircraft and their missions are being highlighted at EAA AirVenture this year. Action 2 News first reported on Tuesday about the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital, which provides eye care and training in an effort to prevent and cure blindness.

But aid comes in all shapes and sizes and there’s a small plane in Oshkosh providing medical assistance to those in need around the world.

Among giants in Boeing Plaza sits a small three-seater float plane, with room for one more passenger, a patient. The plane is the newest in a fleet of three for Samaritan Aviation. The Christian non-profit serves a very remote area of Papua New Guinea, above the South Pacific.

According to Mark Palm with Samaritan Aviation, “There’s a 700 mile river, it’s the size of the Mississippi and there’s 250,000 people that live along this river and they’re one to three days away from the only hospital in the area.”

Samaritan Aviation is a lifeline for people in that region who’d have to travel by canoe for care during emergencies.

“If you could imagine, if you have a snake bite, poisonous snake bite, the main snake there is a death adder, so you have about eight hours to live. So, we’ll get the anti-venom, a nurse, save their life, bring them back in. Breach birth, 40% of our flights are mothers and babies, and tribal wars, tuberculosis is an issue. Polio even came back to Papua New Guinea two years ago,” adds Palm.

Co-founder and CEO of Samaritan Aviation, Mark Palm is also a pilot who’s flown missions for 10-plus years. As a teen he spent time in Papua New Guinea and realized the need for access to emergent care. A recent cancer survivor, he understands now, more than ever the importance of the work his organization does.

Palm says, “These planes, really, it’s hope in action. It’s people with a passion, which is our staff, to serve people and save lives, going over there an investing their lives for their neighbor.”

Funded by donations, foundations, and partially the Papua New Guinea government, Palm is excited to expand the program to other parts of the country seeing the impact of their work.

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