How did Just Love Mission Little Annie Begin?

Just Love Mission (JLM) is a charity born out of love for aviation and the positive effects it can have not only on individual people but communities as well. We believe that anybody can do something spectacular, but if it is not done with love, the shine wears off and it has little lasting impact. These sentiments have often been echoed in the past. To quote but one famous person: “In doing something, do it with love or never do it at all” – Mahatma Gandhi. 

JLM is a non-racial, a-religious, a-political, and non-sexist charity, whose aim it is to serve all impartially by applying the age-old principle of neighbourly love (Ubuntu). We will do so by serving through the medium of aviation in the personality of “Little Annie” (LA), the Antonov AN-2 aircraft donated for this extremely specific purpose. Due to accidents, diseases, pestilence, natural disasters and/or conflict, many children/young adults are left destitute, mostly as orphans. It is in this area that the mission wishes to place its focus. The idea for the project was conceived by Mark Hill, a seasoned pilot with 36 years’ experience, in both helicopters (8 364 hours) and fixed wing aircraft (4 874 hours).

In 2002 already, aviation enthusiast Gary Price suggested the AN-2 as the ideal aircraft type to reach rural areas with unconventional landing space. However, several personal attempts to secure an AN-2 failed. It was only in 2011 when a personal friend, Mr. Niall Olver, CEO of Execujet Global, discussed the idea with his friend and business associate Mr. Andrei Martirosov, CEO of UTair in Russia (who thought the idea to be “cool”), that this dream was realized and ratified on condition that “Little Annie” was to be flown from Siberia to Cape Town as part of the ocean to ocean theme. She was subsequently adopted from a “Siberian orphanage” (UTair Cargo) and flown all the way from Tyumen (Siberia) to Cape Town and then back to Pretoria, where she will reside with the Just Love Mission family. The trip, which had to overcome various administrative nightmares regarding flight clearance issues, weather, corruption, theft of precious avgas fuel and more, should have taken two and half weeks. Instead, it took two and a half months to cover the 17 180 km (see map below), consuming approximately 19 500 liters of fuel and 470 liters of oil. The AN-2 aircraft was first flown on 31 August 1947 and after 67 years (1947-2014) is still affectionately nicknamed “Annushka” by the Russians, or “Annie” in English.

Inspired by the classic comic strip and subsequent film “Annie,” about a young orphan who through her positive outlook and undying hope of being reunited with her family, impacted the lives of those around her in a meaningful way, it was only natural that ZU-JLM should assume the name “Little Annie.” She was thus adopted for use in the Southern African theatre of operation primarily in a humanitarian role. What makes this project unlike any in the world today, is that while we are delivering humanitarian services in various regions, we will afford some of the less privileged children/people the opportunity to fly in Little Annie and receive a photo of this, once in a lifetime experience, to treasure. The outreach model will include tangible aid where needed, but also enrichment and encouragement through short presentations to communities. We will use role models who have come from similar backgrounds of poverty and need to encourage and give communities hope that they too may achieve their respective dreams in alignment with their natural talents. “The day Little Annie came to our village” will have a life changing impact on young and old.

We believe the persona of “Little Annie” the aircraft, will stimulate the imagination and that young children will identify with Little Annie, who has overcome numerous challenges to achieve her dreams. There are many people who care enough to share their time, knowledge, experience, and various resources to help others to help themselves and realize their dreams. We hope you will come on board to help people to experience the strongest force in the Universe, Love, and to kindle the desire to achieve the impossible, through perseverance. The people that have met with Little Annie will be able to remain motivated and in contact as they follow her adventures through life via Facebook, the website and print media. We hope to gain broader exposure via radio and television. “Little Annie” will be a catalyst in building lasting relationships