Missionary Pilot Jailed In Mozambique


The CEO of Mission Aviation Fellowship is calling on the Mozambique government to release an American pilot who was arrested a month ago on allegations that he was supplying goods to rebels. Ryan Koher, 31, and two South African volunteers were arrested Nov. 4 as they prepared to fly vitamins and other supplies to orphanages in the strife torn Cabo Delgado Province. MAF CEO David Holsten said Koher is innocent and he wants him released in time to be home for Christmas. 

“I urge Christians around the world to pray for Ryan’s safety and swift release, and call on those in power both in Mozambique and here in the US to do everything they can to resolve this wrongful detainment,” said Holsten in a statement. The three were arrested after authorities found something in two bags brought on board by the South Africans. Authorities haven’t said what they found and only vaguely said the arrests were for “supporting insurgent activity.” The volunteers’ lawyers have denied any wrongdoing by their clients.

The aircraft’s destination has been ripped by violent unrest in recent years. MAF has flown numerous missions to the area carrying supplies for civilians and evacuating people needing medical attention. Koher is now in a maximum security prison and U.S. Embassy staff have visited him. His wife and two children were living with him in Mozambique but have since returned to the U.S. in keeping with MAF security protocols.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. A ‘70’s and ‘80’s MAF sub-Sahara Africa alumn, I am not totally surprised but am nevertheless saddened by this unfortunate event. While I was never incarcerated during my tenure with MAF, local strip side atmospheres occasionally felt like detention might be imminent.

    Aviation is rife with human factors affecting our abilities to accomplish our tasks. I found that a good understanding and constant self-reminder of local culture as it was affected by history, much of that under colonial rule helped me cope with the delays, red tape, and harassment occasionally directed at folks like myself who were merely engaged in causes greater than ourselves.

    My best wishes go out to Ryan, the same age now as I was back then, his family, MAF, and those whom they serve. Carry on.

  2. Prayers sent. Looks like a nice family God bless them for their service.

    He kinda looks like Goose from the original Top Gun.

  3. I still remember John and Martha King being held at gunpoint on a tarmac here in the USA. Governments react first and then think afterwards w/o penalty. Hopefully these three will be released soon.

  4. I saw that video with the Kings. Vile overreach of government power but the Kings really handled it with grace and class. Made my stomach churn to watch it.

    • I think your characterization is a bit ash overboard as the reaction of the police on the tarmac. Gung-ho on bad information is how I would characterize it.

      • The government forces were all action and no thinking. Anyone who stole a plane would not then file an IFR flightplan using the N Number. They use force FIRST and then though and reason comes well afterwards. Seriously, a team of men holding multiple automatic weapons on a old couple? This is what governments degrade to.