THE BIG IDEA: Fixing and Flying Missionary Airplanes With MMS Aviation


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Hey everyone! Janice and I have both felt called to the mission field since we were young. I always felt a particular concern for the 3.14 billion people who have few, if any, Christians in their people group. We call these people groups “unreached” because they do not have a Christian influence in their society. Ever since reading “Bruchko” and “End of the Spear” in high school, I have had a particular interest in the remote tribes found in desolate places forgotten by the modern world. I always thought this meant I would be preaching sermons to headhunters who were chasing me with spears, intent on putting me in their cooking pot but God took that interest in unreached people groups and tweaked it a bit. Now, don’t get me wrong, if God ever puts me in the middle of a group of headhunters, I may get that opportunity to give a fiery sermon but instead of a being an evangelist, God has called me to be a mechanic and a pilot. I’m better at fixing things than I am at fixing people so I think this was a wise move by God. He’s usually better than I am at planning the fate of world and so I’m happy to listen to His guidance instead of my own.

Now you probably know this, but you can’t just trot down to the local mission in the Amazon and tell them you want to fly their airplanes around. They don’t generally let people do that. They don’t even let you work on them without some training (they don’t want people dying in plane crashes, which I can understand).

So the first step to this calling is to get the training I need so I can be a trained, effective, and useful pilot and mechanic on the mission field. This is where MMS Aviation comes in.

Josh Snader and MMS Aviation blog
MMS Aviation-3

In November of 2017, Janice and I went through the evaluation process at MMS Aviation and were invited to join their pilot/mechanic apprenticeship.

MMS Aviation is a non-profit, ECFA accredited FAA repair station dedicated to preparing planes and people for worldwide missionary service. MMS Aviation fixes actual missionary aircraft from around the world free of labor charges. Not only does this save the mission field money (a whopping $1.5 million in 2017 and $1.2 million in 2016) it also presents an opportunity to give hands on training to the next generation of missionary pilots & mechanics.

Apprentices (such as myself) are trained in the hangar with the supervision of highly experienced staff members who give mechanical advice and spiritual discipleship. We work on actual missionary aircraft from 109(+/-) different mission aviation organizations.

In this way, MMS Aviation accomplishes several things.

1. Blesses the mission field by helping aviation ministries be better stewards with their financial resources.

2. Takes airplanes that otherwise would be scrapped (because of rebuild costs) and instead makes them useful tools in the Great Commission.

3. Trains new mechanics and pilots with hands-on, immersive training and real life experience with actual missionary airplanes giving apprentices 4,800 hours of turning wrenches and fixing problems that they’ll find on the mission field. MMS Aviation produces excellent quality mechanics with a mission field expertise.

4. Produces highly qualified mechanics with zero student debts. Apprentices graduate with their A&P certification and leave debt free, ready to serve unlike many other schools who charge tuition and do not offer the amount of real life work experience MMS does.

the Snader family with MMS Aviation

How long will it take?

First, we have to raise 100% of the monthly support quota required by MMS Aviation. We need to raise $5,300 of pledged monthly support. This will cover our cost of living and flight training costs. While the apprenticeship at MMS Aviation is free (there is no tuition), there are some training costs that come with the pilot program. Plus, I will not have a job since I’ll be working in the hangar on mission aircraft full time so we need to raise support to cover our living expenses. We are hoping, praying, and working to raise our monthly support quota by May 28, 2019 (my birthday).

Once we have our 100% of our monthly support, we’ll move to Coshocton, Ohio (where MMS Aviation is located), rent a house in the neighborhood, and work in the hangar full time. A typical work day is 7:30 – 4:30 o’clock. Then I’ll go home, kiss my awesome wife, eat a hearty meal, and study the materials I need to know in order to achieve my FAA A&P (Airframe & Powerplant) certification. I’ll also have to stay in contact with our supporters and prepare an occasional lesson for Wednesday morning Bible Study at the hangar. Janice will help with studying, keeping the house, keeping our supporters up to date, and raising up Adilene and any other children that come along in the way they should go!

This mechanical training and certification process at MMS Aviation will take 30 months, or about two and a half years. By the time we are done in Ohio, I’ll have 4,800 hours of hands on aviation maintenance experience gained by performing the actual maintenance, modification, and repair of live missionary aircraft from around the world.

After that, the we will move on to flight training which takes place at the MAG (Missionary Air Group) headquarters in Burlington, North Carolina. This process will give me about 400 flight hours, a commercial pilot’s license, and real world experience with primitive airstrips in foreign countries. This pilot training with MAG will take about 2 years to complete.

After our training is complete…

After our two and a half year mechanical apprenticeship at MMS Aviation and our two year pilot training program at MAG is done, we’ll be qualified to join nearly any mission aviation organization out there. Our only plans at this point is to ask God to lead us once our training is done. One thing is for sure, we have a responsibility before God and our supporters to use the amazing training we received to further God’s Kingdom. Janice and I both are committed to serving God as missionaries for the rest of our lives, using aviation to deliver Jesus to isolated and unreached people groups!

Of course, all of these plans are ultimately subject to the will of the Lord who guides and directs our path.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9

Is this worth the time or money?

Absolutely! Aviation opens up doors into the world never before accessible. Several hours of flight time can replace days of driving time – not to mention avoiding war zones, bandits, car malfunctions, and impassible roads. Aviation is a important, and indispensable, part of the Great Commission.

The problem is that getting into aviation is expensive. There’s not enough people who have the skills required to meet the needs in mission aviation. MMS Aviation is helping to prepare people and planes for worldwide missionary service by helping folks become equipped to fill that need.  This is most effective way to reach the inaccessible corners of the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ!

Check out this video from Mercy Air, featuring MMS Aviation:

Here’s a video from MAF (Missionary Air Fellowship) detailing their operation. MMS Aviation and MAF work closely together and chances are, airplanes you see in this video have been overhauled, upgraded, or serviced at one time or another by MMS. Take a look and see how MMS is enabling MAF (and other missions) in reaching the previously unreachable:

In Summary:

The Vision: To become life long, faith supported missionaries capable of repairing and flying airplanes in support of the Great Commission.

The Current Goal: Raise 100% of our financial support so we can become full time apprentice mechanics at MMS Aviation’s headquarters in Coshocton, Ohio.

How Can You Help? Hands down, our biggest need right now is monthly supporters (one time gifts go into our support account but do not count towards our monthly support quota). We need to raise our support quota before we can start the training and it’s a big mountain. If this sort of vision excites you and inspires passion in your soul, we’d love for you to join us as monthly partners! Let’s do this! Click here for more support info.

Also, pray for us and spread the word about our vision. We would love to raise awareness for the mission field as a whole as well as our own specific calling. Give us opportunities to share about MMS Aviation and the world of mission aviation at your church or small groups. We need a group of supporters praying, advocating, holding us accountable, and supplying needs. Click here for our Pray & Praise page.

To go to MMS Aviation’s website, click here.

Always Grateful,

Josh & family


Snader Family and MMS Aviatioin prayer card