In 1945, Brigadier Vic Pedersen convinced The Salvation Army to buy an old RAAF tiger moth. In the two-seat biplane, Vic began travelling to remote communities and outback cattle stations, providing a vital link to the outside world. The ‘Flying Padre’ was born.
Today, Captain Greg Howard carries the Flying Padre mantle, taking to the skies in a Cessna 182S. As the 10th Flying Padre, Greg spends most days flying over the magnificent Northern Territory, and into the north-west, to visit far-flung communities. As well as offering a chaplain’s listening ear, Greg delivers supplies, provides long-range transportation and conducts ceremonies such as weddings and funerals.
‘Some days it might just be a day trip out to Katherine, to visit a station. I might meet the manager, have a chat with the cook or a cup of tea with the guys working in a shed out in the yard,’ says Greg.
‘A lot of the people and communities I visit are such a long way from anywhere and they appreciate someone to talk to. Children on stations also enjoy someone dropping by to show an interest in them and what they are doing in the classroom. I count it a privilege to fly into a station and be welcomed and accepted by the community.’
In the last year, the Flying Padre visited 220 NT and WA cattle stations (including Indigenous communities), made personal contact with over 2000 people and ran a series of Christian education lessons at schools.