This past weekend brought sad news to our offices with the loss of Dick Wagner. Dick, a former Northwest Airlines pilot from Lyons, Wisconsin, built and ran his own aviation business with his wife Bobbie, and also established the Wagner Foundation, organized and run by the Wagner family (here is an obituary on the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame website). The Wagner Foundation secured Mano a Mano’s first Cessna 206 plane in 2005, which was just the beginning of his philanthropic investment and leadership. Dick was all about safety and good business practices and helped organize and structure Mano a Mano’s current aviation program in Bolivia, working with our co-founder Segundo Velasquez for hundreds of hours, all as a volunteer.

Emergency air rescue in one of our Cessna planes

The second Cessna 206 was added in 2009; it allowed us to almost double our flight hours providing emergency medical recovery throughout Bolivia.  This past year, Dick was helping Mano a Mano secure a third plane, a twin-engine Navajo. When Dick was on a mission he did not stop until the job was done, doing research, making calls, talking to Segundo, daily…weekly, analyzing every aspect of a potential purchase until the perfect plane was found. In the meantime, Dick decided that he wanted to donate his own twin-engine plane to Mano a Mano, adding a third plane to our fleet. Two of our pilots from Bolivia flew to Milwaukee in November to fly the plane home to Bolivia where it will be put into operation in a few weeks.

Plane donated by Dick Wagner arriving at our hangar in Bolivia last month

Finally, after extensive research and numerous calls, a fourth plane was located in California, a twin-engine Navajo that seats ten passengers.  That plane is in the air as I am writing this note on its way to be put into service in Bolivia.

On behalf of the entire Mano a Mano family we wish our most sincere condolences to all the members of the Wagner family. Dick left us a legacy for life. As we fly our planes we know Dick is flying with us and watching over everything to make sure we do it right. Peace and Blessings Dick.

Dan Narr, Executive Director