On July 13, 2018 – 3 years ago – Mano a Mano staff, board members, and volunteers went to Fleming Field in South St. Paul to check out the Cessna Caravan before it started its journey to Bolivia. Since arriving in Bolivia, this plane has increased the capacity of Mano a Mano’s Aviation program to transport more people & more cargo, more efficiently.
First Flight at Fleming Field – July 13, 2018
Impact of the Aviation Program in the First Half of 2021
- During the first six months of this year (179 days), the program made 269 flights, using 250 flight hours. The Cessna Caravan aircraft flew about half of these flights.
- Airlifted 123 patients, primarily individuals suffering from severe COVID-19, to specialized care in urban hospitals.
- Transported 217,910 pounds of cargo, including 143,000 pounds of medical supplies and equipment to public and non-profit healthcare providers throughout Bolivia.
- Established twice-monthly scheduled flights to the Amazon basin town of San Lorenzo. Currently, these flights transport COVID patients. Once that need subsides, they will transport produce into and out of this region.
Challenges to Get the Plane From Minnesota to Bolivia in 2018
After purchasing the Cessna Caravan in Minnesota in the summer of 2018 (thanks to the generous support of donors and the sale of Mano a Mano’s airplanes that the Caravan would replace), there were months of training and prep for our pilots. Our pilots first traveled from Bolivia to Orlando, Florida for pilot training for this new, larger plane. Then they flew to Minnesota on August 11, 2018. From there, the plane was flown to Tampa, Florida to have an extra fuel tank installed to minimize the number of landings. With the additional tank, the Caravan would be able to reach the Guayanas (the most northern part of the South American continent). The Caravan was then flown from Fleming Field in the Twin Cities to Cochabamba, Bolivia in October 2018. Over the next 5 months after it arrived in Bolivia, we obtained registration and certification, made the required customs payment, and received approval to purchase jet fuel for the airplane. All steps were completed and the airplane started flying in March 2019 (5 months is actually an extremely fast turnaround).
Challenges of Flying in Bolivia During COVID-19 in 2020 & 2021
The Caravan had about a year of providing emergency flights, transporting cargo, transporting Mano a Mano staff and volunteers for projects in rural areas, and providing a portion of flights for paying customers to subsidize its nonprofit work…and then COVID-19 hit.
The past 18 months have presented unprecedented challenges to our aviation program. During much of this time, government restrictions have led to grounding aircraft, or limiting flights to COVID-related purposes only. Prior to the pandemic, our aviation program had reached its goal of flying 50% of its flight hours for private individuals, businesses, and other NGOs to help cover the costs related to its service mission. Pandemic restrictions eliminated our opportunities to raise funds through these means.
But we continue to respond to the demand and fly.
Aviation Photos in 2021
Learn More About Mano a Mano’s Aviation Program
- Flying in Bolivia During COVID: Mano a Mano’s Aviation Program in 2020
- Recent Mano a Mano Emergency Flights – May 2021
- Providing Weekend Health Clinics in Rural Bolivia
- Volunteer Spotlight: Dra. Carmen Duran Providing Weekend Dental Care in Rural Bolivia
- Mano a Mano Technical Training Programs for Construction and Aviation