Aviation Without Borders’ objective is to follow in the admirable footsteps of the French aviation charity Aviation Sans Frontières and to try and emulate our French colleagues’ amazing record of more than 30 years of extensive charitable work.
The seeds of Aviation Sans Frontières were sown in the late Sixties during the Nigerian civil war. A group of brave French pilots and flight engineers, offering their services free, operated a Super Constellation, chartered by the Red Cross and the Order of Malta, on mercy missions from Libreville to Biafra. In 1971, in the wake of the famine at the end of that conflict, another famous French charity, Médecins Sans Frontières, was founded by a group of French doctors and journalists.
The chartered Super Constellation flown by French crews continued to operate further successful mercy missions to Bangladesh in 1972, the Southern Sahara in 1974 and Burkina-Faso in 1979, but it was not until 1980 that three Air France pilots in Paris, inspired by these earlier events, founded Aviation Sans Frontières. By then the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan had begun and Médecins Sans Frontières was endeavouring to provide medical care there for civilians. The charity gained international recognition when courageous doctors trekked on foot, in defiance of thousands of Soviet ‘butterfly’ mines, on clandestine cross border operations.
At that time many charitable organisations, Médecins Sans Frontières included, were facing serious transport difficulties and were unable to supply the required amounts of food, medicine and equipment to the needy. The object of Aviation Sans Frontières, therefore, was to help fill the gap between supply and demand by supporting humanitarian organisations with an air transport link.
Over the years Aviation Sans Frontières has slowly spread its wings across Europe and now Belgium, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain and the UK, with Aviation Without Borders, all form part of ASF International.