MAF Plane Crashes in Papua New Guinea, Kills 2 Crew Members

A Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) aircraft crashed in a remote area of Papua New Guinea the afternoon of Tuesday, Feb. 22, killing the pilot and copilot, both from New Zealand.

According to MAF, Capt. Chris Hansen of Rotorua and Capt. Richard West of Auckland sustained fatal injuries when the Twin Otter they were flying crashed while circling the Wobegon airstrip near Tabubil in the country's highlands. The cabin attendant and 10 passengers suffered only minor injuries, and most walked to the nearby village of Bimin.

A helicopter and various MAF aircraft were dispatched to the accident site, and a clinic was set up at Agali with doctors flown in by MAF. The cabin attendant and one passenger were later flown to the Tabubil Hospital for observation.

In conjunction with the Civil Aviation Authority, MAF-Australia has begun an investigation into the accident.

Founded in 1945 by former World War II pilots, Mission Aviation Fellowship supports of more than 300 Christian and humanitarian organizations around the world. According to the organization, MAF planes regularly fly to more than 300 of Papua New Guinea's remotest airstrips, providing a lifeline for the isolated churches and communities. Efforts will be made to continue providing air service in the Tabubil region.

In the meantime, the families of the flight crew will be flown to Mt. Hagen for support and a memorial service. Debriefing and counseling is being arranged for the staff.