“You’re on your own there”

Have a dream job, but give it up anyway. Joost and Ruth de Wit have to do it. From being a traffic pilot at KLM, they become bush pilots at MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship). “Flying became a passion from a childhood dream, so a good job, and now it becomes a mission.”

By Esdor van Elten

Born pilots? Ruth de Wit-Van der Ploeg (41) born in Leiderdorp comes close: “I was able to fly before I could drive a car,” she says. At the age of 21, she was the youngest flight instructor in the Netherlands. In 2008, she became a pilot at KLM, where she makes international flights as a co-pilot with Boeing 777 and 787. At KLM, she also met Joost de Wit (46). Like her, a pilot from an early age: “I already started hovering when I was 16.” He is now captain of a Boeing 737: “So I fly primarily within Europe. The butterflies fluttered each other and in 2012 they got married. They now also have two children: Naud at 8 years old and Annemijn at 5 years old.

A happy family, a good job, a beautiful home; Joost and Ruth are doing well and still enjoy working at KLM: “It is still a miracle that you can get started with something like this”, says Ruth. “And the view is amazing.” “It’s great to fly,” Joost agrees. You come to all sorts of places and no two days are alike. It is very dynamic. ”

We love to fly
And yet, they set it all aside to become bush pilots in the near future with MAF, an international Christian organization whose vision is to bring help and hope to those in need with aircraft and technology in development areas. (www.maf.nl). It sounds loud, but in practice it means hard work to fly in difficult and not always harmless areas in developing countries. A bad trade? Not for Ruth and Joost: “We never flew for status or salary, but because we love to fly”, Joost explains. We ended up at KLM and it was luck.
“We could have kept doing that until we retired,” Ruth continues. “But when we became acquainted with MAF, we got the urge to help people with our profession, with a plane.” For it is not always a luxury to fly. In many developing countries, people are dependent on aircraft for supplies, medical care and so on. “People who live so isolated that a plane is the only way you can reach them.” Ruth and Joost are both religious, and this charity stole their hearts: From a dream, a passion and a job, it now becomes a mission. ”

An organization like MAF, located in the Netherlands at Teuge Airport, would like to see experienced pilots like Ruth and Joost. But that does not mean that they can just get started: “Flying in the bush is really different from commercial flying at KLM”, Joost emphasizes. You fly with small planes, it’s different. You are much more involved in the flight itself, and you do everything: to fly, but also loaded. And you really transport everything: materials, livestock and of course people. ” In addition, you often fly in difficult conditions “, Ruth continues. “Short runways, in the mountains, often several flights in a day, and you’re really on your own.” Therefore, Ruth and Joost are now following a series of intensive training sessions to prepare for this. “In addition, I will be following an instructor training in September, so we both have our certificate,” says Joost.

All that training is not cheap. “A large portion of our savings goes to it,” Joost expects. There are even more costs. It is not only about education, but also housing, livelihood, education for the children, possible security and so on. And unlike KLM, MAF does not pay a decent salary: “We depend on people, organizations and companies who want to support us,” explains Ruth. We need to build our own followers with sufficient commitments so that we get the necessary finances. People can support us through MAF, which also makes it deductible. We keep in touch with our supporters through our newsletter, website (www.mafdewit.nl) and on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, also under mafdewit). People can also make donations via the website. ”

Mixed feelings
What do Naud and Annemijn really think? “They have mixed feelings,” Ruth admits. “They do not like having to leave boyfriends and girlfriends, and they can not imagine what it will be like yet. School, home …. †

This also applies to Ruth and Joost themselves: “We do not yet know which country we will eventually go to. MAF is active in 27 countries, so there are plenty of choices. We may know more in a month or two. We go where we are needed. ”

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