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American pilot dies in plane crash while delivering coronavirus tests to remote Indonesian village

American pilot dies in plane crash while delivering coronavirus tests to remote Indonesian village

She was responding to the needs of the village of Mamit in the Papua highlands when the crash occurred.

A 40-year-old missionary American pilot died in a plane crash earlier this week when her aircraft malfunctioned while she was on her way to deliver Covid-19 rapid test kits to a remote Indonesian village, officials said. The crash is said to have occurred shortly after Joyce Lin, who served as a Kodiak pilot and IT specialist for the Idaho-based Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), took off from Sentani Airport in Papua province early Tuesday on a one-hour flight to Mamit. Although she'd been with the MAF for just two years, her impact was significant, said the organization.



 

 

"The Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) family is deeply saddened by the loss of their colleague and friend, Joyce Lin. She departed the Sentani, Papua, Indonesia airport early in the morning of May 12, piloting an MAF Kodiak aircraft. Joyce was responding to the needs of the village of Mamit in the Papua highlands and cargo on the plane included COVID-19 rapid test kits for the local clinic," the non-profit said in a statement. "Within minutes of takeoff, she reported an emergency and the aircraft descended into Lake Sentani. Joyce was the only person on the airplane."



 

 

Speaking to The Salem News, Brad Hoaglun, director of corporate communications for the organization, said: "While the MAF family is grieving her loss, we know Joyce died doing what she was called to do and what she wanted to do." Police spokesman Ahmad Musthofa Kamal informed reporters that Lin apparently had technical problems two minutes after takeoff. Although Lin sent a distress call and requested a return to the airport, the control tower reportedly lost contact with her almost immediately after. Rescuers found Lin's body two hours after the crash at a depth of about 43 feet in Lake Sentani.



 

 

MAF has not had a fatal accident in 23 years, David Holsten, president of MAF, told Christianity Today. "We feel a great sense of loss but a great sense of comfort as well because Joyce was doing what she loved to do and she was faithful to the calling that God had placed on her life. She gave her life serving the Lord in a way that was impacting others," he added. Lin, a Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary graduate, joined MAF in 2017, was an experienced pilot who'd also served as a flight instructor. However, she'd only recently received approval to fly solo missions since they require rigorous training due to the difficult terrain the pilots encounter. 



 

 

In an April newsletter sent to people who supported her mission work, Lin described her first solo flight as the "culmination of a 10-year journey to become a missionary pilot." In another newsletter penned a few months prior, she wrote: "In late October to early November, I spent a week of training in a Quest Kodiak flight simulator, followed by a week of flying the real thing in Idaho. It felt amazing to land the Kodiak on my own for the first time! This has been my dream airplane ever since I found out about mission aviation. I landed the Kodiak at both paved and unpaved airstrips and practiced emergency procedures."



 

Raised in Colorado and Maryland, Lin graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with bachelor and master degrees in engineering, and obtained a private pilot certificate while she was in college. Speaking of her MIT background and engineering skills, Hoaglun said she could've chosen a much more lucrative career than working for a nonprofit like MAF. "But this is what she chose to do. She was called to do it. Joyce was the type of person that our organization truly wants to have. She was dedicated to serving people out of her love for Jesus Christ." Lin is survived by her parents and two sisters.



 

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