Through the years of high-school, my close friends and I were plane mad. We couldn’t get enough of them – plastic models, posters, movies, air-shows (anyone remember Skyrace Tasmania?). Then, of course, I wanted to get my pilot’s licence, because that was the logical next step! However, sometime after becoming a Christian near the end of Grade Nine, I remember consciously making the decision that I wouldn’t pursue getting my pilot’s licence. For me at the time, my conviction was that as a Christian, I couldn’t justify spending that amount of money to get a licence that would just have been used for fun (not that I had THAT much money back then!).
Fast-forward about five years and two different occurrences changed my mind about being able to justify spending a large amount of money on a pilot’s licence. The first prompt was while attending a young adults Bible study and hearing a guest speaker - who was working as an engineer in Nepal -mention how he believed that God could use someone’s interests and passions to serve him by putting these things to good use in a cross-cultural context. This comment stayed with me, and not long after, when I was lent a book about the history of the mission aviation organisation called Mission Aviation Fellowship, I had an ‘ahh’ moment. Maybe, through my God-given interest in aviation, there were opportunities for God to build his kingdom using aviation as a tool. But, where was the money going to come from?
I was just starting my first full-time job after finishing a university degree and was shortly getting married and buying a house – money wasn’t going to be easy to come by. However, to make a long story short, God intervened, and while doing some voluntary computer teaching at a small school in Yemen, I was offered a short-term contract to work for the United Nations Development Program as a project manager. Working just five months in this position, being paid tax-free in US dollars and with an exchange-rate of US$0.50 = A$1.00, it quickly became apparent that God was providing the means for me to soon begin flying lessons with the goal of being a pilot serving cross-culturally through mission aviation. Through God’s enabling, I am blessed to have been a mission aviation pilot for more than ten accident-free years – all praise to him!
Noel graduated from the University of Tasmania in 2000 with a B.Sc (Hons.). He is married to Catharine, and they and their three children have lived and worked in Arnhem Land and Papua New Guinea as members of Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia.