All four of Mano a Mano’s aircraft are now operating and certified in Bolivia!

Why Having a Larger Plane is Important – What the Navajo Plane Makes Possible

Our Navajo aircraft (twin-engine, 10-passenger plane) has flown twice out of the country and is scheduled this week for a third trip to Santiago, Chile. These international flights generate much-needed revenue for the program and helps support our core programs of providing emergency flights and weekend health clinics (in 2012 we provided 377 emergency flights and 21 weekend health clinics).

The Navajo has demonstrated that we can respond in weather conditions that would be too dangerous or impossible with the other airplanes. We have responded to emergencies in the late afternoon (when we knew we would be returning in the evening). Thanks to the Navajo, safely, we airlifted the patients even if we had to return in the dark.

Flying above the clouds

Flying above the clouds

The size of the airplane has also made it possible to airlift patients along with their family members and, even more importantly, the Navajo allows us to carry a doctor, nurse or EMT and needed equipment (IVs, ventilators, incubators, etc) whenever we are responding to an emergency call. On one occasion we  airlifted seven patients on a single flight with the Navajo. Using the Cessna 206, we might have needed three flights to transport the same seven patients; some patients have to lie down taking up more space. The Navajo makes it possible for us to transport gurneys and even caskets, and in some cases two at a time; our Cessna is unable to accommodate even one of these large structures.


The size of the cabin in the Navajo also makes it possible for us to transport large pieces of equipment for Mano a Mano, such as motors, welders, and various drums of liquids. This cargo would take from days to weeks to transport to the distant places where Mano a Mano personnel are working, which cuts down dramatically on downtime from broken equipment or lack of supplies.

Our Most Recent Emergency Flight

Our Navajo airplane has airlifted people, animals, cargo, and equipment. But responding to emergencies is what our staff is about.

Our most recent emergency flight was for a newborn child in Oruro.

We received an emergency call from a small hospital in Bolivia’s high Andean city of Oruro. One of its patients, a tiny weeks-old infant, had a heart problem that they could neither fully diagnose nor treat. Its staff had located an incubator but recognized that this baby would die soon if he could not reach a heart specialist. We dispatched an aircraft to transport the baby in the incubator to Cochabamba where volunteers from Save and Rescue, one of our partner organizations, met us. The hospital was a 5-6 hour drive away from Cochabamba over horrible roads and even during the short distance to the Oruro airport the child suffered a cardiac arrest; he had to be resuscitated by emergency medical personnel. The child was flown to Cochabamba where he received immediate treatment. It took 30 minutes by plane as opposed to a 5-hour drive.

This baby lived because we were able to fly him to life-saving care.

Child transported to Cochabamba from Oruro

Child transported to Cochabamba from Oruro

Many of these flights were made possible thanks to the support we received during our 2012 Spring Gala in St. Paul, MN, where the focus was on our aviation program. If you’d like to be part of this year’s Spring Gala you can PURCHASE TICKETS HERE.