Adventist News

Adventist Mission Pilot Dies in Papua Plane Crash

At approximately 9:15 am on April 9, an Adventist Aviation-Indonesia (AAI) mission plane piloted by veteran pilot Bob Roberts crashed upon take-off at the AAI headquarters in Papua, claiming his life as well as those of several passengers on board.

Bob and Jan Roberts [Photo: Adventist Mission]It is believed that there were six passengers and that at least two have been taken to a local hospital, although this has not yet been confirmed.
Witnesses indicate that the Quest Kodiak appeared to have trouble lifting off just before it slammed into a bridge at the end of the runway. However, an official cause has yet to be determined by crash site investigators.

Roberts and his wife, Jan, have faithfully served the church for more than 20 years in Papua. Darron Boyd, Adventist Mission and Evangelism coordinator in Papua, says Roberts brought hope in his small aircraft to those in remote areas. Roberts' work included delivering food, medicine and urgently needed supplies as well as transporting sick and needy passengers to and from the many outlying, isolated mountain villages of Papua.

He is well known throughout the islands and has flown hundreds, if not thousands, of relief flights.
In spite of 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 interview taken a year ago for an Adventist Mission video report. “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,” he added.

Pastor Jonathan Kuntaraf, Sabbath School/Personal Ministries director for the General Conference, shares that "I am very saddened by his death. He and his wife are very dedicated people. Together we worked to raise money to educate underprivileged children in Papua. Please pray for the family during this challenging and difficult time."

His wife Jan says "he died doing what he loved best." The Roberts were missionaries in Africa from 1976 – 1992 until they were called to serve at the Adventist Aviation-Indonesia in the territory of Papua. They have three grown children.

Papua, Indonesia is an area of the church in the southern Asia-Pacific region with over 20 language groups and a population of over 2 million. It is under the territory of the church’s East Indonesia Union Conference which has 763 churches and over 101,000 church members

To see the feature video of Bob’s mission work in Papua, visit this link and click Called to Fly

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