The greatest achievements in life often come at an unprecedented cost ...
The dream of creating a mission aviation training facility was laid on the heart of a number of men, including David Cummings, then Director of Wycliffe Australia, Doug Hunt, Chief Pilot for Wycliffe in Papua New Guinea, and Bruce Searle, then an aeronautical engineer. The year was 1973 and it looked as though the dream would soon become a reality with the gifting of a property on the outskirts of Canberra. However, the tragic news of the death of Doug Hunt and five of his Wycliffe colleagues in PNG was so profound that the project ground to a halt.
But God had planted a seed; a dream and a vision that would be revisited more than two decades later in 1994. The catalyst was a critical shortage of mission pilots and engineers, which resulted in the Bible College of Victoria (BCV) now called Melbourne School of Theology (MST), the MAF International, and Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) discussing the possibility of a training facility based upon a Christian foundation. All that was required was the right person with the right vision and motivation to make the dream become a reality. Twenty years after the initial tentative steps, Bruce Searle was invited to begin Australia’s first mission aviation course.
Close to Bruce’s heart was the mandate to keep training and study together. He wanted to offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ for mission aviation training. Bruce had seen the stress on family life in moving so frequently for study and training and he sought to bridge that gap.
The first mission aviation training centre was located in Lilydale at the Bible College of Victoria with flight training conducted in Ballarat for the first 6 years. Students and staff found themselves commuting between Lilydale and Ballarat. Bruce was determined to find a local solution, so after much prayer and fund-raising, an opportunity to build a new facility came into fruition at a privately owned airstrip at Coldstream, only ten minutes drive from BCV.
Kick-starting the new millennium, the mission aviation facility was opened in 2001, ending the long commute to Ballarat and finally fulfilling the mandate of a true one-stop-shop concept for mission aviation pilot and engineer training.
Sadly, Doug Hunt never saw the vision fulfilled, but he was an intrinsic part of the legacy of God’s people who dreamed and acted upon God’s calling on their lives. Out of such things, ACMA continues to thrive and touch the lives of God’s people around the world.