December 30, 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the beginning of SAMI– Servant Air Ministries, Inc. a non-profit organization founded by Dr. Robert Lehton known as Bob by members and the Pilots for Christ International community.
In 1993, Bob came to realize the majority of planes at Merritt Island Airport saw more hours on the ground than in the air. As a private pilot he knew the potential for general aviation missionaries to help the local community was tremendous so he had local attorneys in Rockledge Florida record the articles of incorporation on December 30th. By 1994 the board consisted of the following four men, Doug Shock, Kyle Dixon, Wendell Chancey, Michael Schoolfield who along with Bob agreed their outlook for serving through aviation was excellent.
Today, SAMI serves the communities surrounding Merritt Island Airport and beyond. The local nonprofit has flown local citizens to hospitals in Tampa and Gainesville. As the Florida Chapter of Pilots for Christ International, SAMI in pony express style has provided medical flights for Floridians to receive life changing treatments in other states. People in the Bahamas have also received joy from our community through the delivery of new toys to orphans and useful equipment plus supplies to their custodians. SAMI relishes opportunities to share aviation with young people and members enjoy flying the youth during annual EAA events to share the bird’s eye view of the Merritt Island community. Faithfully SAMI has educated many with the desire to grow their aviation skills while supporting each individual’s spiritual growth. We celebrate and continue to pray for those who serve in our nation’s military and commercial aviation corporations. You may have seen SAMI’s planes flying during Easter Morning Sunrise Services along the beach with the wings “JESUS LIVES” going overhead or maybe you saw their fun Christmas Airplane Float in our local parades or spoke with members at an air show as they were handing out paper airplanes and water. Seen or unseen, SAMI is here to serve.
Left to right: Kyle Dixon, Dr. Bob Lehton, founder and honored with President Emeritus, Fred Pino and Skip Williams. The men were original founders of Servant Air Ministries along with Roy Coy and Doug Shock who are not pictured.
Spouses with Founding Members. Left to Right:Sandra and Kyle Dixon, Bob and Bunny Lehton, Fred Pino, Karen and Skip Williams.
Left to right: Steve Miller -longtime member – , Kyle Dixon, Roger Strover – longtime supporter/builder, Bob Lehton, Fred Pino and Skip Williams.
The original founders with their spouses, longtime supporters, members, current board members and guests were able to enjoy a great potluck after worship and before the Rockledge/Cocoa Christmas Parade.
Left to right: Bud Campbell, Elizabeth Bishop, Dan Mandracken, Sandra Dixon, Scott Langston, Kyle Dixon, Steve Miller, Bunny Lefton, Fred Pino, Dr. Bob Lehton, Roger Strover, Karen Williams, Sam Parsons, Skip Williams, and Dick Blondin.
During the group’s annual Christmas celebration, last meeting of 2018, the group started celebrating SAMI’s 25th Anniversary with a great cake made by the local bakers at Publix which was adorned with silver dusted dark chocolate airplanes from Betsy K’s Chocolate Factory.
Guests had a great time especially Noah who had his first flight with mom and ate a chocolate airplane too!
If you are interested in learning more please note, monthly meetings are family friendly and take place on the second Saturday of each month. You may meet local, national or international disciples of our risen Lord Jesus Christ. All come together to share inspiration, missionary challenges and prayerfully we are finding ways to grow together. Click meetings for more information.