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Zibell, Michael Scott 2001 Only by air: The effects of mission aviation, PhD Dissertation, University of South Carolina.
    © Michael Scott Zibell, 2001. Use of any part of this thesis for any purpose must be acknowledged.


The purpose of this research is to determine how the community air service portion of mission aviation affects its users and the communities served by it. Subsequently, it assesses the aircraft's role in developmental and political processes. This work also expands Hartshorne's theories regarding centripetal force by inquiring whether mission aviation is functioning as a unifying force within countries. The study examines how mission aviation affects the efforts of missionaries, service workers, and government officials endeavoring to improve the well being of geographically isolated people in developing countries. There are a number of private aviation organizations that use light aircraft to provide transportation in extremely remote areas. The research utilizes the case study of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF-US), the largest and oldest mission flying organization. Fieldwork was conducted during the summer of 2000 at MAF flight operations in Indonesia (Irian Jaya, East, Central, and West Kalimantan), Lesotho, Mali, and Ecuador. Semi-structured, open-ended interviews with people who use the air service were accomplished in accordance with the Rapid Rural Appraisal methodology. The geographic theme of movement was investigated by focusing on the processes associated with flights between central places (where MAF aircraft were based) and hinterland stations. Results of the study indicate the aircraft is the most beneficial to workers in areas with poor surface transportation options. It reveals the particular geographic environments in which the plane is most effective as well as a measure of that effectiveness. The study identifies the many effects of the service and organizes them into a functional model of mission aviation. The data further indicate the aircraft is serving as a political and social centripetal force in remote areas.


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