After a two-week journey of more than 5.7 million miles around the Earth, astronaut Patrick Forrester and fellow space shuttle Discovery crew members landed safely Sept. 11 at Edwards Air Force Base in California with a piece of missionary history.
The item, part of an airplane battery box, comes from martyred missionary pilot Nate Saint’s Piper PA-14, which is on display at the headquarters of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) in Nampa, Idaho. Saint and four other missionaries were killed on a sandbar in Ecuador in 1956 by a tribe of Waodani Indians.
“Bringing attention to and renewing interest in missions would be a great result of this experience,” said Forrester, 52. “My deepest intent is to honor Nate Saint, the Saint family and all missionaries around the world.”
The airplane part received approval for the flight from NASA after conforming to strict size and weight restrictions. Forrester asked MAF to provide a part of Saint’s plane for the shuttle mission.
Forrester plans to return the piece to MAF in the near future, providing a certificate confirming its
Founded in the U.S. in 1945, MAF has a fleet of 130 bush aircraft in 55 countries, with an average of 242 flights daily across Africa, Asia, Eurasia and Latin America. MAF pilots transport missionaries, medical personnel, medicines and relief supplies, as well as conduct thousands of emergency medical evacuations in remote areas.