Story & Photos by Lobitos de Jesus Alves
Pilot from India shares his journey to young nation where he has flown more than 200 medevacs.
Lungpinglak Domtta has travelled a long way from his home in India, via a spell in Africa, to Timor-Leste. But the energetic pilot, known as Captain Ping, feels at home in the country and has found a sense of family within the Mission Aviation Fellowship and the community.
He is making a big impact in Timor-Leste, where medical flights make up a large proportion of MAF’s work, flying over 200 medevacs since arrival to this country. “I’m excited and blessed to be part of the amazing service we do here. And in over two years, I have flown more than 200 medevacs. I have flown 2300 hours so far, and in 2023, I flew 300 hours,” he said. “It’s a very proud moment because 200 medical evacuations mean 200 families were given hope through our aircraft operation here in Timor-Leste.”
Ping comes from Nagaland, a small state in the north-east of India, and his career as a pilot began when he was working for a charter company in Kolkata, but his transition to MAF led him to the stage where he could combine his passion for flying and serve people in remote places.
“Growing up, I never heard about any such organisation where you can combine your passion for flying with your desire to serve,” said Ping. Ping’s transition to MAF started when he was introduced to the organisation by a workmate from Bangladesh. He started with MAF in 2016 in Arnhem Land, then moved to Africa.
Ping shares a brief highlight from his time in Uganda during COVID where he had a chance to fly vaccines. “During peak COVID time when I was in Uganda. The whole country was in lockdown, but I had opportunity to fly vaccines to Congo. I recall how I was not allowed even to step out of the aircraft in Congo. It was a good experience and a blessing to me,” he said. “The western part of Uganda experienced flood in 2020. I was part of the team there and did seven relief supplies flights, and as a MAF programme in Uganda, we did around 28 flights.
“I could see MAF as an organisation and me as an individual being able to reach out to the isolated communities in that way.”
Moving to Timor-Leste in 2021, Ping feels at home in this young nation. “After I moved to this country, from the very first month, I already love this country and it made me feel like home. Timor-Leste reminds me of home, the landscape, people, food, and culture. I come from Nagaland, from the north-eastern part of India, and I believe our cultures are alike in so many ways. I have felt at home in Timor-Leste since the first few months I arrived here."
“I like to play futsal, hike around Dili, and go to the beach. But there are days I just like to rest at home, recovering from work. I also like catching up and hosting people.” He also says it’s not just the value of the work, the people make MAF feel like a family to him.
“It's been almost eight years since I've been with MAF, and whenever I meet people or sometimes when I share, I say that since I first joined MAF, it has always made me feel like family,” Ping said.