An American pilot died in a crash while trying to deliver COVID-19 test kits to a remote village in Indonesia this week.
Joyce Lin, who worked with the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), left the airport in Sentani, Papua province at 6:27 a.m. on Tuesday (local time).
The 40-year-old was scheduled to deliver the test kits to the Papua Harapan Foundation in the rural village of Mamit, Tolikara District.
Just two minutes after takeoff, Lin, who was alone on the plane, made a distress call.
Unfortunately, the small Kodiak aircraft fell into Lake Sentani, where divers recovered Lin’s body at 8:30 a.m. at a depth of 13 meters (43 feet). Her remains were then sent to Bhayangkara Police Hospital, according to the Jakarta Post.
Officials said that Lin’s plane had malfunctioned, according to CNN. But what exactly caused it remains unclear.
The MAF, a U.S.-based Christian and humanitarian aid organization, provides aviation services to transport basic necessities and missionaries to inaccessible locations.
Lin has been with the organization for three years as a pilot and an information technology specialist, working to set up and maintain computer networks that allow missionaries to access the internet and communicate with their supporters.
Lin majored in computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), obtaining both bachelor of science and master of engineering degrees. She then enrolled at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and graduated in 2017.
While in college, Lin also obtained a private pilot certificate “for fun.” She learned about mission aviation in seminary and began to look for opportunities, which then led her to the MAF.
As Papua was placed in lockdown, Lin continued to serve. “It may sound strange, but these trying times have enhanced my feeling of purpose here in Papua,” she wrote in an email on May 6.
“With every flight I see first-hand how MAF is connecting isolated villages with vital supplies and medical care. This can’t be taken for granted in normal times, but especially now with all of the travel restrictions, the people remind us how thankful they are every time an airplane is able to land in their village.”
Lin is survived by her parents and two sisters.
“Just two days before she went to be with the Lord, she shared how she was living her dream,” said Brock Larson, regional director of MAF Indonesia and Joyce’s teammate. “Her years of effort following God’s calling were being rewarded and rewarding others daily. Joyce was a light reflecting Jesus, and she will be deeply missed.”
In honor of her service, the MAF set up a memorial fund to train Indonesian national staff in more technically advanced skills such as maintaining and flying aircraft. Donations can be sent here.
Feature Image Screenshots via Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF)