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'On Angels' Wings' Agape Flights' Unconditional Mission

Founded in 1980, The Christian Organization Serves Missionaries In The Caribbean, Delivers Disaster Relief, And Shares Jesus's Unconditional Love

In a hangar at the Venice airport, miracles are happening every day. After all, that hangar and its two airplanes make up one of our region’s most unique nonprofit organizations—Agape Flights. Every week, loaded with vitally necessary supplies, the aircraft of Agape Flights depart Venice, rise up through the clouds like angels, and soon arrive in the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, where they are welcomed by missionary families. Agape Flights brings missionaries essential supplies they cannot acquire in those impoverished countries, allowing them to do their work of spreading God’s love and hope throughout the Caribbean. 

It all began in 1980 after Ohio farmers Keith and Clara Starkey returned from a Haiti mission trip and had a vision for the future.  As Clara famously said, “God laid it on our hearts to buy an aircraft to fly supplies into Haiti.” Living in Bradenton at that time, the Starkeys mortgaged their home, incorporated Agape Flights as a nonprofit, bought a small Cessna 411, and found a volunteer pilot to fly it. Three weeks later, Agape Flights’ very first flight took off from the Bradenton-Sarasota airport to supply missionary families in Haiti. 

“For the past 41 years, God has brought together the people, the pilots, the provisions, everything needed to make the ministry what it is,” says Agape Flights Communications Manager Abby Duncan. “What started with one flight to Haiti quickly grew into serving different locations throughout Haiti. Then, at missionaries’ request, we started going into the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas. There was so much need and the ministry has continued to grow and grow.”  

Agape Flights has also flown supplies in times of crisis, such as after 2010’s Haiti earthquake, 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, 2019’s Hurricane Dorian, and the most recent 2021 Haiti Earthquake. Working with the missionary network on the ground, the disaster supplies delivered by Agape Flights are quickly distributed to the affected populations who need them. 

On Saturday, March 5th from 11:30 A.M. to 2 P.M., Agape Flights opens its hangar to the general public for its annual ‘Pie in the Sky’ awareness event. Agape Flight’s CEO Allen Speer and the rest of the staff and volunteers will be on hand to explain the organization’s work and mission, display their aircraft—currently an Embraer 110 ‘Bandit’ capable of carrying 3000 pounds of supplies, and a Piper PA 31- 350 ‘Chieftain’ capable of carrying 1750 pounds of supplies and passengers—and share God’s love over BrewZaBagels' pizza and Yoder’s dessert pies. The event will have a superhero theme and is fun for the whole family. 

Agape Flights is supported by many partners, but always welcomes financial contributions to maintain and broaden its Christian mission. Flights depart weekly throughout the year. During times of disaster relief, flights may depart every day. Fuel is one of the organization’s main expenses, along with aircraft maintenance, and everyday operational costs. The mission is not without serious risks; Haiti in particular continues to suffer from political unrest, violence, and disaster-related challenges.   

“The missionaries we serve are so grateful for Agape, they tell us that they could not do what they do without Agape’s service,” Abby says. Agape Flights is blessed to serve affiliated missionaries who share the love of Christ through agriculture, athletics, clean water and community resources, education, micro-enterprise opportunities, medical and dental care, vocational training, home and church construction, and more. 

Agape is a word to describe God’s unconditional love.  Agape Flights literally means 'God’s love flights.' Offer your support to Agape Flights and its mission through the contact info listed below! 

100 Airport Ave. E., Venice. 941.488.0990. 

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