SERVANT AIR MINISTRIES, INC.
ANNUAL REPORT 12/31/2003
Servant Air Ministries in the year 2003 probably had the most activity of all the preceding nine years. Even though missions and air travel were down based on National Security interests, Servant Air made many new innovative flights. Mr. Chris Hull, our first youth Board member, had to resign because he relocated to Seattle, WA and will continue his missionary flight training there.
A slate of officers was presented by Mr. Neal Spurlock and voted upon, re-electing Dr. Robert E. Lehton as President, Mr. Steve Williams as Vice President, Mr. Skip Williams as Treasurer, and Mr. Fred Pino as Secretary. Again, the financial position of Servant Air Ministries remains stable, with a positive cash flow, even though we have had the rather large expenditures of replacing two engines during this past year. In 2003, Servant Air Ministries paid off the loan on the Aztec PA-23 twin-engine aircraft. Our Cessna 172 has been used exclusively for primary flight training, and we had brought on two new instructors. Thus, our Cessna 172 has been used for most flight training, and our Saratoga PA-23 and Aztec PA-23 will be used more for long distance missions.
This year we utilized a Cessna 172 for 216 training hours and approximately 240 training hours in ground school. The last four months of 2003 saw almost 100 hours in the Cessna 172 with its new rebuilt engine. Our Saratoga PA-32 301T was utilized at 140 hours in mission flights. Our Aztec PA-23 was utilized at 135 mission hours.
Regarding mission trips, we have partnered with two new missionary groups to the Bahamas. We have done two trips already with Overland Missions, who acquired a 57 ft. sailboat called the “New Song”, to be anchored in the Abaco Islands, and we helped relieve the crew of 6 – 8 missionaries onboard about every three months. Likewise, SAMI continues it news partnership with Covenant Players by making numerous trips to the Bahamas over the summer and in the spring to Grand Bahamas and New Providence Island.
Our chapter experienced another miracle in our Aztec, not just receiving the Aztec as answered prayer in 2002, but also an engine problem on a flight to the Bahamas. About 20 miles off shore east of Vero Beach on a flight to New Providence Island, the left engine (which only has 450 hours since rebuilt) depicted a heating problem on #3 cylinder. The engine analyzer was a life saver. We turned back to Merritt Island, and in troubleshooting the problem found the cam shaft was scoring the cylinder head and shredding metal into the prop governor and oil cooling box. This resulted in a complete rebuilt engine, which cost approximately $19,000. The Lord was faithful by providing this money, and it resulted in two engines being rebuilt in 2003, one on the Cessna 172 and the left engine on the Aztec PA-23. With bills in excess, the faithful sometimes become fearful, but people that support the aircraft, as well as local churches, helped rebuild the engine correctly without scrimping on quality. It just shows that God is able and provides in times of crisis. We likewise had a bond that was invested over the last ten years for emergencies such as this and were able to refinance the bond at a higher rate and still receive the monthly payments of the dividend.
This year we made exploratory flights to The Berri Islands and Cat Island. This opened the door for missionary flights to Cat Island, which was opened by our flight instructor, Ryan Roberts. This past summer we flew numerous missionary groups to the Bahamas consisting of over 60 people going to
Islands, such as, Marsh Harbor, Cat Island, as well as Grand Bahamas and New Providence. The Chapter remains active in securing Bibles to send to these locations and help churches start up evangelistic and out-reach activities. Our new turbo Aztec has opened more doors flying to the Bahamas because of its longer range, ability and speed, as well as it can carry a much larger load than our past missions.
In September of 2003, Dr. Lehton was a speaker at the Pilots for Christ Convention in North Carolina and Mr. Joe Cappurccini likewise spoke about his missionary activities in Guatemala. The meeting was a tremendous experience of fellowship and make contacts to be able to fly “Pony Express” flights for Angel and Mercy flights. The convention, likewise, voted to be used by the National Security Disaster Relief Association to the help in times of national emergency.
In October 2003, Servant Air Ministries agreed to sponsor a tour of pilgrims from the United States to Israel with the coming Feast of Tabernacles of September 2004. At the time of this report, we had 50 people already signed up and. The cost of this trip, which will be an eleven (11) day tour, is $2,699, which includes all fees, taxes, as well as transfers. This tour will be a worship experience of a lifetime, combining a tour of Israel with the experience of the Feast of Ingathering. Servant Air Ministries made numerous flights for the International Christian Embassy bringing speakers to different areas throughout the southeast, and likewise Pilots for Christ has agreed to also promote the embassy through the northeast part of the United States.
Finally, the Christmas party for this year celebrated our tenth year of service. It was the most attended with about 45 in attendance, but generated a very sweet spirit of fellowship. Recently, we had about twenty new members join. We have four flight instructors working at Voyager Aviation in Merritt Island, and Paris Air in Vero Beach. Likewise, one of our flight instructors has now opened a training experience at Florida Institute of Technology for Christian missionary pilots.
In conclusion, it has been my privilege to serve as president for Servant Air Ministries for the past ten years, and once again, thank the Board of Directors and Volunteers for their efforts in this ministry. The summer of 2004 looks fruitful for carrying a number of missionary flights back to the Bahamas, as well as working with Covenant Players and Overland Missions. Likewise, we would like to acknowledge Bill Oyler and Ryan Roberts for putting together a new web site, and for one of Ryan’s students for their volunteer work in a repainting project for the Cessna 172.
We sincerely thank all the members, Board, pilots and supporters of Servant Air Ministries for a fine year in 2003 and expect the Lord to produce great fruit in this coming year.
Robert E. Lehton, CFII, MEI