April 10, 2014

Adventist Mission Pilot Dies in Papua Plane Crash

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.
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.

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

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