Pilot Missionary


 How I Got My Pilots License in Five Weeks! or… The 21 Miracles”

What a challenge this has been. I felt like the Israelites must have felt when they were on the way to the promised land, lots of obstacles and battles needed to be fought and won… a journey believing in God Almighty…He lifts me on wings of eagles…

My name is Claudia Bernhardt and I’ve been a missionary for 6 years in Mozambique Africa. The Lord put getting a pilots license on my heart for a number of years. I had no previous flight experience whatsoever so I put in on the back burner. Around October of 2010 the lord told me this was the year I was to get my pilots license.

My plan was to leave America the beginning of November, go to South Africa to get my pilots license there (in the nice warm clear weather) but God had a different plan.

  1. He Changed my Plans. I was in New York one day before my flight left for Germany (for a short visit with my family) when the Lord put upon my heart to go to Chicago instead. Against all logic I canceled my return ticket and therefore lost the value of the ticket because it was non-refundable.
  2. Certified Flight Instructor was Available 8 hours a day to teach me ground school and flight instruction for a month, no charge. My regular flight lessons started on November 15th 2010. The bill for plane rental and gas cost $85 per hour thanks to Neo-Flites flying club. Normal fees would be around $150 per hour.
  3. The Alien Flight Student Program ApprovalI applied but my flight instructor needed to get his name on the list on their website as a licensed instructor who offers training to foreign nationals. That was miraculously done within a few hours (usually government offices don’t do anything quickly, not even in America) I filled out the 10 page application and was told it would take several weeks to process my application and NO there was no quicker way! (They don’t know my God)Within 2 weeks I got the approval, and my next step was to get fingerprints to prove I am not a criminal.
  4. FingerprintsI went to O’Hare Airport and found out they no longer had the necessary equipment. They suggested FBI. The FBI does not do it anymore either, they said go to my local Police Station. As an “alien” I do not live here therefore I do not have a local police station, plus other fingerprinting places would not work because they are not TSA approved.Just when it seemed impossible, I decided to try Midway airport even though we could not verify over the phone weather they did fingerprinting or not. After hours at the airport spent searching for the right office we landed up at Midway Business Center which is not at the airport at all. TSA does fingerprinting for their employees only. I begged and pleaded with the receptionist to help me. Silently I proclaimed in the Spirit”I am going to get finger- printed today”! I found favor with her and she said she would make some calls about the situation. While waiting a familiar looking man walked in the door. I remembered I saw him at O’Hare Airport. He noticed me and said,” I know that lady, she’s an alien” (I love being called an alien:) Turns out he use to work here and was authorized to do fingerprinting. He needed to change the computer setup to do the fingerprinting for me. The good thing was this was the proper TSA system that was electronically linked to the clearing house where my fingerprints needed to be checked. This means we didn’t have to send them in. They got there right away! No delay, no getting lost in the mail. This was definitely a God thing. I didn’t even have to pay anything!My rejoicing was short lived as the secretary told me it takes at least 6 weeks to get cleared and probably more like 6 months. That news got me to pray harder for a quick approval as my Visa was about to expire. The next Monday I got an email from them that I was approved by the FAA to take Flying lessons. What a wonderful answer to prayer!Addendum: To prove what a fantastic miracle this was read on…After a Christian said he was stunned to see how the Lord worked it out to get me fingerprinted here in Illinois. He has a CDL truck license and since they sometimes carry hazardous chemicals he needed to get fingerprinted recently. Since 9/11 it is very hard to get this done. He had to go all the way to Kalamazoo Michigan to get fingerprinted.
  5. Memorized Everything Supernaturally During my wait times for the above approvals I studied for the written Pilots test. There is about 10 books to study all the size of Bibles. I found I was retaining everything I read, it truly was supernatural learning.
  6. Passed the Written Exam After Only 8 Day of Studying 92% Praise God again. Some guys at the airport couldn’t believe I passed after only 8 days of studying without taking a special cram course. I gave the credit to the Lord.
  7. Missing Endorsement I was allowed to take the written test even though I didn’t have the proper endorsement in my logbook. My flight instructor filled in the endorsement after I already passed!
  8. My Passport Does Not Have my Address Before I left Germany I applied for a new German ID So when I needed proof of address I e-mailed my friend to pick it up and have it sent via DHL to me. I received it just in time so I could proceed with getting my license.
  9. Failed Vision Test (Is This The End?) To pass the medical your eyesight must be 20/40 or correctable to 20/40. Mine came in at 20/50. So we went to American Best eyeglass store. I ordered the glasses and picked them up in 2 days. I went for retest and found out glasses could not correct the astigmatism so I did not pass the eye exam. Sunday at church I asked everyone to lay hands on me and pray for my eyes to be healed so I could pass the FAA eye exam. I went back to his office on Monday and when he tested me it was a remarkable 20/30. He said he never saw such a thing. He could not believe my eyes got better in only 3 days. He was astounded but he signed my medical. Jesus still heals.
  10. Received Medical Certificate Same Day It Usually Takes Weeks! The Doctor gave me the form to fill out with the envelope to send to Oklahoma City. In turn they would send the certificate to Germany. That would have taken weeks. We called the Doctor and asked him if he would contact the FAA Aero-Medical branch at Oklahoma City to make an exception and instead of us having to send it in the mail could he directly give me my medical certificate? They accepted!!! Hallelujah!!!
  11. Snow Was Every Where One night as we were racing to get my landings perfected. There was snow and with low visibilities in every direction, except where I was at the airport practicing landings. After we landed and parked the plane it started to snow.
  12. Flat Tire On the last leg of a solo cross country I suddenly felt angels surrounded me unbeknownst to me I had a flat tire yet I landed the plane as smoothly as ever.
  13. Lord Help My Visa Expires Tomorrow and I’m only 10 hours away from getting my License!Heidi Baker (of Iris Ministries) husband Rolland told me to do whatever it takes to get a US pilots license because it is recognized everywhere. What can I do? I do not have the money to fly back to the US if I leave. I’ve come so far. I’m getting an idea from the Lord. Go to Canada.
  14. No Way to Get to Canada I do not have the money to buy a plane ticket to Canada or even for a rent a car and the bus or train will take too long it’s already 8:00 PM tomorrow my Visa will expire and I have to be out of the US or I will be breaking the law. Jeff’s wife Debbie calls me and said I could use her car to drive. I called Laurie from church and she said she could go with me. No one is available at this time to call to see if this plan is viable. We leave early in the morning. Road Trip… We’re going to wing it.
  15. No Place to Stay In Canada When you cross the boarder you have to give them a reason and an address of where you are going to stay. We didn’t even have the money for a hotel room.One hour before reaching the boarder Debbie called with the name of a Vineyard Pastor in Canada near the boarder. A friend of a friend referred us. He invited us to stay with his family for 2 nights and asked me to talk to his congregation. What a blessing.
  16. I Get to Return to the US (This is the biggest miracle) On the way back Laurie needed a passport which she did not have. We found favor with the boarder official. Otherwise I would have had to fly home if I could not get back in the US because my Visa expired. He stamped my Visa and let Laurie through! I could stay another 90 days which was unheard of and really took a lot of pressure off to get my pilots license without having to come back to the United States again from Africa. We later found out going to Canada or Mexico does not count as leaving the country!
  17. 10 Minutes Short on Pilots Log The next day I was to go for my Flight test so we were very excited I needed one hour more of cross country solo flight time. The weather forecast was at minimums for a student cross country. I took 30 minutes to fly to Janesville, WI. On the 30 minutes trip back I decided to fly around the practice area for an extra 16 minutes before landing the plane. When I landed I found we made a mistake in calculating my hours. I would have been short 10 minutes. The bad weather came just as I landed the plane. Had I not flown the extra time I would not have had the required 10 hours of solo cross country time to take the test the next day. I would have been 10 minutes short instead I was 6 minutes over.
  18. FAA examiner tries to cancel. The weather was so bad the night before and the forecast was for even more snow the next day. When he called to cancel I said NO, let’s keep the appointment. Early the next day it cleared up enough for him to take the chance and drive 46 miles to the airport. By the time he got to the airport, weather was not just good enough; it was perfect, not a cloud in sight anywhere with only a light wind which was good because he was piloting a 747 to Japan the next day. The examiner was more that a little surprised in because of the horrible forecast and actually said that my prayers must have worked.
  19. Oral Exam The questions were so hard I failed the test. My flight instructor had to look up some of the answers I got wrong. It was not covered in my course materials. I passed it on the second try.
  20. I PASSED THE TEST!!!………….December 18th 2010……………….I Got My Pilots License!!!
  21. Home For Christmas I Left Chicago with a Pilots license to be with my family for Christmas for the first time in ten years! Thank You God for Everything.

Did I mention I did not have a car during this whole time!

Members of River of Life Church provided transportation for me to DuPage Airport and back to Clarendon Hills daily. My thanks to everyone who helped in this project.

Why A Pilots License?

Some of you may be thinking with all the people starving in Mozambique how does getting a pilots license (an expensive one at that) help? People are starving and dying here. The sickness and death is so overpowering it makes you cry. But we are here to help. We bring food and clean water. The medical supplies, as limited as they are save lives. The Good News is shared with villagers that never heard it before. We provide education. One thing we do is teach them how to plant Moringa seeds. The seeds grow into a tree in 6 months that provide ALL the nutrition the body needs. The seeds can purify water no electricity needed. For more info: www.TreesForLife.org scroll down to Moringa then click on right hand side for the Moringa Book. You can read all about this miracle Tree.

With a truck it can take 10 days or more to go into the bush. The roads are narrow bumpy dirt trails that are dangerous to travel on in more ways than one. With a plane it would take a few hours to get there plus we can go even deeper into the bush to help more people. Again let me say this was the Lords idea for me to get my pilots license, not mine. I do not know exactly why or what he will have me do next. I will take it a day at a time and follow the Lords direction step by step. It is exciting to serve a living God and I know something amazing will come out of this.

They did not ask to be born in a barren land filled with disease, hunger, death and witchdoctors.

Please join with me on my journey to help the poorest of the poor in Mozambique Africa. Pray for the widows and the orphans and protection for the missionaries.

Thanks and May God Bless You

Sincerely, Claudia Bernhardt

Editors Note: Claudia doesn’t ask for donations ever. She depends on the Lord for everything. It is a miracle the aircraft rental fee is paid for. While Claudia was here in the Chicago-land area she did not spend any time sightseeing downtown visiting the museums or Sears Tower. She studied and took flight lessons day and night. She was diligent with her time. No breaks and no slacking off. It was an honor to be a part of this mission and I am excited to see what God has in store for the future.

Praise our wonderful Lord and savior for providing ALL the money for Claudia’s flight Instruction. Now the next adventure will be building an airplane to ship to Africa. This is an exciting opportunity to be part the next miracle. If the Lord puts it on your heart to give and be a part of this mission, please feel free to give a financial gift to help in buying the Zenith CH801 airplane kit. For next step we will need volunteers to build the airplane. Everyone is welcome to help. It will make it possible to go further into the bush to help more of God’s people with food, water, medical supplies, bibles education.

If the Lord leads you…You can be a part of the next miracle… building an airplane for Jesus:

"Praying for this Plane to be done in Jesus Name"
“Praying for this Plane to be done in Jesus Name”

Send your tax deductible donaton to: River of Life Church 5701 Clarendon Hills Rd. Clarendon Hills, IL 60514-1626 and put “Airplane” in the memo.

or use your PayPal or Credit Card Here

For more information call Debbie Tideman 630-327-3853