In 1971 while Director of Development at World Vision, founder Howard Payne was burdened about the problem of moving donated relief supplies to people in need and conceived the idea of mobilizing volunteer pilots. By April 6, 1972, he and two other fellow believer pilots, Lowell Gerber and Stephen Smith, started CPA with the motto, “Flying for Jesus and human need”. That same year Stephen, Howard and two other members flew the first mission to Ensenada, BC, Mexico to finish a boys dormitory roof of an orphanage.
By the end of 1973 there were 144 members throughout the world. By February 4th, 1976, when the Guatemala earthquake struck, we had 600 members and an incredible challenge on our hands. We were given an office in the Guatemala Air Force side of Guatemala City Airport that started us on a two-year mission. That disaster was used of the Lord to give CPA it’s most rapid growth as we overcame impossible odds by God’s mercy and grace. By 1978 membership had grown to 1200.
We purchased a cement block making machine and in two years rebuilt 115 churches in Guatemala. One pilot from North Dakota loaned us his plane for that period. Howard obtained a BAC 1-11 cargo flight from Flying Tigers and flew down with 20,000 lbs. of relief supplies that were collected by our Christian pilots like Hans & Linda Steinhoff. Dozens of us were ultimately involved. We were honored by the Guatemala President for our help.
CPA originated a toy distribution program for children living in abject poverty in Mexico that eventually became independent but started out as. “KIDS-TO-KIDS”
Our first national headquarters office was a 10′ x 10′ room over a mannequin company across from the ElMonte Airport (rent taken as a tax-deduction). The second was given free by Pomona Valley Aviation at Bracket Field, Pomona, CA. in February of 1975.
During the first six years of CPA operations, we mobilized members in many cities around the country in what we called ” WINGS”. Col. Nick Spaise and Howard Payne started the Hawthorne, CA. Wing in November of 1975. In February, 1976, the Guatemala earthquake hit. Nick and Howard teamed up to mobilize CPA for this emergency.
More toy distribution at Christmas by CPA to poor children in Mexico under our three year program called, “KIDS-TO-KIDS”
Here, Col. Nick Spaise handles the distribution.
In those years we were blazing the skies with a new idea that had never been tried before – to mobilize voluntary associations of believer pilots around the world who would jump into their airplanes at a moment’s notice and fly for the Lord to help people.
Col. Nick Spaise went home to be with the Lord in January of 1984, but not before he and his associates were able to transport almost two and half million pounds of relief supplies to the needy around the world.
He had obtained 15,000 square feet of warehouse space for storage of relief supplies. CPA acquired this warehouse subsequently and between ’84 and ’85 we distributed approximately an additional 400,000 pounds of food, medical supplies, clothes and a wide assortment of donated gifts-in-kind to the needy out of it.
Included were 20,000 pounds of medical supplies to Peru, 17,000 pounds of burn dressings to Mexico City, and 8,500 pounds of supplies to the Philippines. The balance went to many relief agencies in the Los Angeles area.
McDonnel Douglas gives CPA use of a warehouse at Long Beach to store relief supplies for disasters. Volunteer employees help our members and volunteer friends to unload rented trucks. A similar scene has been repeated for over 20 years of our history.
Volunteer members of the association wait for Mexican vehicles to unload their cargo of relief supplies for flood victims in Baja, CA. Over the years, hundreds of airplanes like these have been provided for suggested flights for various missions.. Today there are over 800 pilots on our mailing list who have volunteered to take mission flights under FAR, Part 91 operations.
Volunteer youth (120 all together over a period of a week) from the Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadina, happily gave their time to pull out, of the lowest foundation storage areas of the LA Hall of Records, 200,000 lbs. of donated civil defense supplies bound for countries in Africa, the Philippines and South America.
Christian Pilots Association has obtained services of the US military on occasion, as well as becoming involved in joint programs with dozens of other relief agencies. And this is no different to the assistance given to any agency in times of national or international emergencies.
During the Guatemala earthquake relief effort by CPA, Howard Payne (seen left with black tie) and our field director for the operation, meet with Col. Roberto Salazer, head of the Guatemala Airforce (open white shirt) and the President of Guatemala, to receive thanks for the great humanitarian relief work CPA was doing
CPA obtained excellent cooperation and use of aircraft and trucks from the Mexican military during disaster relief operations because of the mutual respect of our military pilot members.
The Rams football team put on a basketball charity fund-drive for Christian Pilots Association.
CPA obtained a gymnasium in Baja, CA. for the distribution of tons of Children’s toys at Christmas time.
The first airplane given to CPA was a 4/5th scale model of a English WWI fighter, a Sebring A3 (?) with a 100 hp Lycoming engine. Max speed was 80 knots.
CPA has come a long way these many years, we look forward to working with you in our effort to serve the Lord in His Great Commission, reaching out to people around the world.