Adventist Medical Helicopter Goes Missing in the Philippines

Prayers and support pour out as search and rescue operations are underway.

Edward Rodriguez, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review
<strong>Adventist Medical Helicopter Goes Missing in the Philippines</strong>
The Philippine Adventist Medical Aviation Services helicopter that went missing over the Sulu Sea on March 1 as it carried a sick person to a hospital in Palawan. [Photo: courtesy of the PAMAS Facebook account]

A medical helicopter of the Philippine Adventist Medical Aviation Services (PAMAS) carrying five people has gone missing en route to a hospital in the Palawan province, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) reported on March 1.

The helicopter, with registry no. N45VX, was carrying Captain Daniel Lui, an American volunteer pilot; Janelle Alder, an American volunteer nurse; a patient; and two passengers from Mangsee island, located in the far southwest portion of the municipality of Balabac. They were returning to Brooke’s Point when the helicopter’s GPS tracking device stopped sending signals at around 9:00 a.m.

Search and rescue efforts have been underway since midday on March 1. PAMAS personnel initiated an aerial search operation in the vicinity of the last GPS update and surrounding areas of the Sulu Sea. Government agencies, including the Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Navy, and other friends with airplanes, have joined six PAMAS pilots and other personnel in search operations by both air and water.

Aerial searching on March 2 revealed a possible site of ditching, approximately 5 miles (8 km) from the coordinates of the last GPS tracking update, as evidenced by an oil slick and debris. The Philippine Air Force is deploying divers to investigate the area further. Additional items believed to have been owned by passengers were collected by water vessels yesterday.

In a social media post, PAMAS posted an official statement expressing gratitude to everyone who has been helping in the search. “We want to express our deepest gratitude to God for sustaining the team so far and for all who have joined us in earnest prayer, have sent encouraging messages, have partnered with us in the search, or have aided us financially to obtain the fuel needed for the search.”

Sean Knapp, the PAMAS Palawan director, is seeking fuel donations for the search-and-rescue operations. In a statement, Knapp said, “Many of you are asking how you can help in our search-and-rescue operations for our missing helicopter. Five aircraft will be assisting us today [March 2], and we really need more fuel than what we have on hand.… Thank you for your prayers. God is already working in so many ways, but the helicopter and five persons on board are still missing at this time.”

Adventist communities around the world poured out prayers and encouraging words on social media to show support for the ongoing operations for the PAMAS helicopter.

As the search efforts continued toward the end of the week, the spokesperson solicited prayers and continued support from the public.


The Philippine Adventist Medical Aviation Services, Inc. (PAMAS) is a nonprofit organization registered with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines that provides medical aviation services to vulnerable groups in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas. PAMAS was established in 2007 with a mission to offer medical assistance to those in need, regardless of financial ability, religion, or ethnicity.

PAMAS operates by faith through donations and is solely staffed by volunteers who share the same passion to help others. The organization is unique in several ways, including the availability of services to all classes of society, regardless of their financial capabilities.

The organization provides a range of services, including medical evacuations, medical and dental services, and mountain literacy schools. In addition, PAMAS offers aid during crises and natural disasters, delivering relief goods, medical teams, and supplies to affected areas.

PAMAS is dedicated to improving access to medical care for those who need it most, regardless of their circumstances.

The original version of this story was posted on the Southern Asia-Pacific Division news site.

Edward Rodriguez, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review