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80-Year-Old Woman Flying in Wind Tunnel for Aviation Charity

Patricia Kettle of Surrey, England is honoring her 80th birthday with a flight in an iFLY wind tunnel to raise money for the Christian nonprofit Mission Aviation Fellowship. 

November 12, 2021
Owen Clarke

80-year-old Patricia “Patsy” Kettle is slated to celebrate her octogenarian status with a wind tunnel flight. Kettle, who hails from Surrey, will fly in iFLY’s 12-foot (3.7 m) recirculating tunnel in Milton Keynes on Friday, November 12. The Milton Keynes iFLY, which has been welcoming fliers since 2005, is one of the two oldest wind tunnels currently operating in the United Kingdom. The 16.4-foot (5 m) Twinwoods Adventure tunnel (formerly known as Bodyflight Bedford) has also been in operation since the same year.

With her flight, Kettle is raising funds to provide support for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), a Christian nonprofit and the largest humanitarian airline in the world.

In the era of COVID-19, the MAF has partnered with health officials in over a dozen low-income nations around the world to help fight the novel coronavirus. The organization’s fleet of light aircraft allows them to specialize in ‘last-mile delivery’ of vaccines to remote rural communities, ensuring the maintenance of cold-chain conditions to allow the vaccines to stay stored at the proper temperature. This is of critical importance in these isolated regions, where there is limited road access or electricity.

According to the organization’s website, MAF was founded in 1945 under the name “Christian Airmen’s Missionary Fellowship (CAMF).” Pilot Betty Greene flew the inaugural flight on February 23, 1946. She flew a 1933 red Waco biplane, transporting two Wycliffe workers over 1,500 miles from La Habra, California, to Tuxpan, Mexico.

The nonprofit now serves in 34 different countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), Papua (Indonesian New Guinea), Lesotho, Mali, Suriname, Guatemala, and Mozambique. Their fleet currently contains 135 airplanes and operates in partnership with approximately 1,500 nonprofits, churches, and humanitarian organizations around the world.

Despite setting an initial goal of £1,000 ($1,145), Kettle, a former teacher and retired priest, has already raised over £2,500 ($2,862) for the nonprofit as of Thursday morning. “MAF do such wonderful work, helping with medical needs, education supplies, and now vaccines,” she told British news station MKFM. “These deliveries, including building materials and food to help support entire remote communities, are so practical, and I really admire that.”

“I’ve been supporting MAF and praying every day for their pilots and staff around the world for as long as I can remember,” she added. “I really hope this skydive will raise money to help MAF deliver more vaccines and lifesaving cargo to the hardest-to-reach communities.”

Kettle appeared quite thrilled about her upcoming wind tunnel flight, noting that she “has always been envious of birds,” but adding that she is still “a little nervous” about flying.

“I’m very touched by all of the support and so grateful to everyone who has got behind me and given so very generously,” she said at the close of her interview. “It has been such fun looking at my JustGiving page and seeing the donations going up. All of the money raised will help communities living in isolation, helping them receive some of the essentials they need to survive.”

Readers can donate to Kettle’s campaign here on her JustGiving page.

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Written by,

Owen Clarke
Owen Clarke is an American action sports and adventure travel journalist, with particular focus on mountaineering and adventure motorcycling. He is a Contributing Digital Editor for Climbing and Gym Climber magazines, and a lead writer for the adventure film company Benegas Brothers Productions. He has summited over 50 major mountains around the world, from the Southern Alps of New Zealand to the Peruvian Andes to the Moroccan Atlas. He is also Editor-in-Chief of his own digital publication, Dead Foot Collective.

Published: November 12, 2021 | Last Updated: November 12, 2021

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