Launching Missionary Pilots

Interview with Tim Huggins, layperson at Friendship Bible (Alliance) Church in Keystone Heights, Florida


AL: Briefly describe the ministry you launched.

The idea of starting a college for mission aviation grew from a teen aviation camp I began at Lake Swan (Alliance) Camp (Melrose, Fla.). The program showed me the need for cost-effective flight training so that heavy debt would not burden students becoming missionary pilots.

The view inside a cockpit. (Photo courtesy of the College of Missionary Aviation)

Today the College of Missionary Aviation provides streamlined, professional, and economical education and flight training. We educate our students in a Christian environment with a balanced focus on safety, professional standards, and missions.

How did God uniquely prepare you for this ministry?

Getting the gospel to the ends of the earth has been in my DNA my whole life. My dad was a pastor, and he had a strong sense of missions, as did my mother’s family. God prepared me in the aviation vocation as a commercial airline pilot, certified flight instructor, and airline captain. I have over 18,000 hours logged piloting 10 types of helicopters and 15 types of airplanes.

Tim Huggins (blue shirt). (Photo courtesy of the College of Missionary Aviation)

God also used me years ago to straighten out the business side of Lake Swan Camp. We followed His lead, and He did an amazing turnaround. We made more than a million dollars’ worth of improvements to the camp, and business has gone through the roof. Many people are getting their call to ministry there. I learned a lot from that experience, and God used it to prepare me for this new role.

What’s one risk you took to launch this work?

We executed a 20-year lease at Keystone Heights (Florida) Airport and formed a corporation. When we stepped out in faith, God showed up in a big way. He has provided a location for our office and classrooms, students, 4 high-tech flight simulators, 10 aircraft, and a hangar. God has continually provided everything at the right time, including a steady parts supply. I’m convinced I’m doing exactly what He wants me to do.

A plane rests in front of the college’s hangar. (Photo courtesy of the College of Missionary Aviation)

Share an example of what God’s done through College of Missionary Aviation to build His Kingdom.

Our first missionary pilot and aircraft are on the field in Costa Rica. The missionaries there haven’t had flight transportation since 1974, so they travel six or seven days on foot to bring the Cabecar Indians medical and spiritual resources. We are in the right place to help these missionaries improve their efficiency tremendously.

What’s your advice for someone desiring to step out as you did?

Make sure that you hear from the Lord. Have wise counsel and strong local church support and then trust, pray, and obey. Surround yourself with Spirit-filled believers who have the same passion to see the lost come to know our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Dedication ceremony inside the school’s hangar. (Photo courtesy of the College of Missionary Aviation)

The work of getting the gospel to unreached people is not complete—step out and be bold. Every day I don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s an exciting, mysterious adventure. It’s awesome to see God work.

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