An Adventist Aviation-Indonesia (AAI) mission plane piloted by veteran pilot Bob Roberts crashed upon takeoff this morning at the AAI headquarters in Papua, claiming his life as well as that of at least one other person onboard.*
Witnesses said that the plane, a Quest Kodiak, appeared to have trouble lifting off just before it slammed into a bridge at the end of the runway. An official cause has yet to be determined by crash site investigators.
Roberts' work included delivering food, medicine and urgently needed supplies as well as transporting sick and needy passengers to and from the many isolated mountain villages of Papua. He was well known throughout the islands and had flown more than a thousand relief flights.
Roberts and his wife Jan, originally from the United States, have served AAI for more than 20 years in Papua. The couple previously served as missionaries in the African countries of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zaire (now Congo) from 1976 to 1992. They have three grown children.
“He died doing what he loved best," Jan said.
Roberts is remembered by Darron Boyd, Adventist Mission and Evangelism coordinator in Papua, as someone who brought hope in his small aircraft to those in remote areas. Despite the often extreme terrain conditions that made his work challenging, Roberts had a love for his mission. “If they’re really sick…, we fly them for free,” he said in an Adventist Mission video report last year. “Those are the kind of things that make you glad you’re a mission pilot. Helping people who would not have hope otherwise. That’s why we’re here.”
Jonathan Kuntaraf, director of the Adventist world church’s Sabbath School and Personal Ministries department said he was saddened by the death of Roberts, who was serving in his home country. “He and his wife are very dedicated people. Together we worked to raise money for the education of underprivileged children in Papua. Please pray for the family during this challenging and difficult time."
Article written by Adventist News Network.
There is an online fundraiser to help the Roberts family in their time of need.
*Editor's note: Number of deaths varies by news source. Article wording has been updated for accuracy.
*Legal notice: Adventist News Network freely permits the reproduction in full or in part of its articles providing that credit is given. Learn more.