A model of an aircraft traveling to remote spots of the world to help fight malaria made a stop at Williamsport Regional Airport this week.
Although Lycoming County hardly is a hot spot of malaria outbreaks, a local industry is playing a part in the cause. Lycoming Engines in Williamsport manufactures the engine used to power the eight-passenger Gippsland Aeronautic GA8-TC Airvan.
Some 2,500 of the TI0-540-AH1A engines are built at the local manufacturing facility.
The GippsAero GA8-TC Airvan taxies down the tarmac at the Williamsport Regional Airport
The GippsAero GA8-TC Airvan taxies down the tarmac at the Williamsport Regional Airport Thursday.
Some of the luggage in the GippsAero GA8-TC Airvan includes two bicycles that pilot Randy Juen and GippsAero CEO Terry Miles hoped to use while flying across the U.S.
"This is our second most popular engine," said Lycoming Engines spokesman Scott Miller.
The model Airvan flew into the airport late Wednesday and departed Thursday afternoon for Wisconsin.
Those aboard the demonstration plane were in the area long enough to meet with Lycoming Engines officials.
The aircraft used for the Millions Against Malaria mission is expected to cover 26,740 miles worldwide, with many of the spots on the map located in malaria-endemic nations.
"It can land and take off in remote areas, which is important," Miller explained.
The Airvan is the first Australian designed and manufactured aircraft to circle the globe.
Miller noted that 16 aircraft of its kind exist.
According to Gippsland officials, the Airvan first was brought online in the 1990s to fill a niche between the six-seat Cessna 206 Stationair, then out of production, and the larger and more expensive Cessna Caravan turboprop.
The 59-day worldwide mission will include raising malaria awareness, reaching people in need of treatment from the disease and delivering supplies.
The pilots of the flight are planning to put together a documentary highlighting issues nations are experiencing with malaria.
More than 1 million people die annually from the mosquito-borne disease.
The goal is to raise $1 million toward the Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia and the Pacific (AFAP) and also the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). AFAP works to alleviate poverty through innovative and appropriate community-based development in the South Pacific. MAF is a team of aviation professionals providing air transport in places of deepest human need, according to millionsagainstmalaria.com.