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Reform Magazine | November 25, 2020

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First flight

First flight

How an RAF officer put the war behind him to
cofound a charity

Perhaps you’ve sat through films such as Saving Private Ryan, The Longest Day or Band of Brothers, which tell stories of the D-Day landings of the Second World War. Stuart King lived through them.

In 1944, Stuart landed in Normandy with the 247 Fighter Squadron with whom he served as an engineer officer. A German Messerschmitt roared overhead as he unloaded supplies and tents for the invasion. For two months, Stuart was on the narrow beachhead as enemy aircraft swept low. Exploding cannon shells forced him to dive for cover. Words from Psalm 34 became very real to him: ‘The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him’. The experience deepened his Christian faith and determined his life’s mission.

After the war, Stuart was offered a permanent commission with the RAF, but turned it down, believing that his call from God was to use planes for peace rather than war. Along with other former members of the RAF, he became a founder member of the fledgling charity Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).

On a rainy, windswept day in January 1948, Stuart and former Squadron Leader Jack Hemmings set off from Croydon airport for an aerial survey across Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Kenya and the Belgian Congo. Flying with just a map, compass and the River Nile as their guide, Stuart said to Jack: ‘A sheet of sandpaper would make as accurate a map as those charts you’re holding!’…

Gary Clayton is Copywriter and Editor for Mission Aviation Fellowship

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This is an extract from an article published in the November 2020 edition of Reform

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