Stan Schmoe can remember when he first heard his calling. It was 1956, and the news of five missionaries killed by Waodoni tribesmen in Ecuador made a profound impression on the young boy.
“I was four years old at the time, and I remember my mom and I were on our knees praying for the families of these missionaries,” said Schmoe, CASS/QA Manager. “In my little heart I said, ‘I’m going to do that someday.’”
Sixty years and countless trips later, Schmoe is making good on the pledge. As a volunteer for Mission Safety International (MSI), Schmoe travels to remote countries to provide safety resources to mission aviation organizations. Conducting educational seminars, safety and security audits, and on-going aviation consultations, the work of MSI provides help and hope to nearly 50 organizations around the globe, enabling them to better reach and serve the world’s most vulnerable populations.
“Airplanes and helicopters are the tool, and the tool gets you to the people,” said Schmoe, who began volunteering with mission aviation organizations in the early 1980s, prior to starting a 25-year career with the airlines. “All I ever wanted to be was a missionary pilot mechanic, and I now see how I was led into the air carrier world to be able to bring a bigger industry perspective.”
Schmoe and his wife started volunteering in 2005, and upon his retirement from Delta in 2009, Schmoe took on a full-time position with MSI as VP of Safety Standards. Although Schmoe returned to work with Endeavor in 2012, he and his wife still dedicate one or two weeks each year to MSI volunteer trips. For Schmoe, it is “vacation with a purpose.”
“On these trips, I work just as hard—or harder—because I’m doing a full-blown audit and I’m dealing with airplane safety issues, which is what I do at work every day,” said Schmoe. “For me, though, it’s relaxing, because it’s a passion. When your work is your passion, you never have to go to work.”
Stan’s travels have brought him to 63 different countries, from Kenya to Bolivia to Bangladesh. Most recently, Schmoe and his wife went to Ecuador this past May, a trip that he said made his journey come full-circle.
“My wife was able to visit a remote village of Waodoni, where she met one of the men who killed the missionaries in 1956,” said Schmoe. “That man and his tribe have been completely transformed thanks to the mission work. In the end, what matters most is the people, and that’s why we do what we do.”