Reporter: Mark Kelly l Photojournalist: Sally Delta Goin
Lynchburg, VA -A best-selling author landed in Lynchburg Tuesday with a gift for Liberty University. Gracia Burnham is a writer, a missionary and a survivor. She was kidnapped with her husband in the Philippines in 2001. After a year in custody, Martin Burnham was killed. She was lucky to survive.
Burnham donated the plane her husband used to fly on missions trips. After he was killed, Gracia didn't want it sitting around. Now, it belongs to the Aviation program at Liberty, and students there are thrilled.
The Piper Super Cub isn't new, but, students say the oldie's still a goodie.
"It is an old school way of flying," said Ben Shipps, Liberty aviation student.
"It's more rugged of an airplane to be able to handle different types of environment and different conditions on the ground," said Nathan Johnson, Liberty aviation student.
As missionaries working in the jungle, Gracia and Martin Burnham needed a rugged plane for their work. 10 years ago, their work turned from saving souls to trying to save their own lives.
"Spent a year running for our lives through the jungle," said Burnham.
"Growing up in the mission community, you kind of hear the stories of other missionary families and the sacrifices some have made," said Johnson.
Burnham's story is full of sacrifice, including the newest chapter - giving this plane for the purpose of training missionary pilots like her husband.
"I think Martin would be proud that this is training the next generation of missionary pilots," said Burnham.
And her donation's already jet-setting their career paths.
"I got a job offer flying J-3 cubs, which is basically the same plane as the super club," said Burnham.
Burnham is in town for Liberty's Missionary Week. She says she donated the plane to the aviation school because her son graduated from the program.