Today’s Illustration: Isn’t “Why” A Fair Question When This Happens?

plane crash jpg Missionary Pilots!

On This Day:  July 13, 2018 — Moody Bible Institute Piloted Plane Crashes and Fatal For Three Onboard!

Other Information & Details:

The crash involved a small single-engine plane — a Cessna 172 (172R) – Skyhawk.

The aircraft was manufactured and put into service in March of 2000 — Expiration date was listed as March of 2020.  That is when it would be given a major overhaul.

“The purpose of the flight was for the front-seated student pilot to undergo instruction. This was the first flight in his training program and the aft-seated student pilot was an observer.”

It crashed about 7 miles west of the Deer Park Airport.

It happened just shortly before 10:20 AM — Friday morning.

There were witnesses who saw the plane go down in the field.  They stated that the wings we off of the airplane and falling to the ground.

All three people aboard were killed — The Instructor Pilot, and the two students.

According to all reports, it was a beautiful day for flying in Spokane, Washington.

The conditions were deemed clear with a 10-mile visibility – wind gust around 4 mph.

Concern for the plane’s safety arose about 25 minutes after takeoff when the airplane did not return to the airport, and there was no longer any contact with the airplane.

“When another student and instructor were looking for the airplane to use for their scheduled flight, the operator noticed the airplane was late. About 1110 the operator attempted to communicate with the CFI on the radio and on his cell phone. Thereafter, the operator contacted the TRACON and eventually they confirmed that the airplane had gone missing from their radar about 1021.”

Diego Senn was the plane’s pilot and professional flight instructor.

Diego Senn became an employed pilot for Moody within the past month.

“The flight school is based at Felts Field but often uses Deer Park Airport for training because it has long runways and no radio tower for students to worry about.”

The two students were both “fathers.”

One student was Joochan (Austen) Lee — a fourth-year aviation student — leaving his wife Yuki behind, who was expecting their first child.

The other student was Andrew Trouten — also a fourth-year aviation student — leaving behind his wife Rebecca and a daughter.

The pilot-instructor, Diego Senn, was also married to his wife Naomi — leaving behind three children and a fourth one on the way.

plane crash moody

  Diego Senn & Family

To determine the cause of the accident, the investigators examine those who died in the crash, the airplane, the crash site, witness reports, and any available records.

The preliminary results are stated as — an in-flight breakup.

The GoFundMe page for Senn says relatives are raising money to travel from South America to Spokane to be with his wife, Naomi, and the couple’s three young children. The page says she is expecting a fourth child in December. As of Monday afternoon, it had raised nearly $18,000 toward a $25,000 goal.

The page for Lee says he and his wife, Yuki, were expecting their first child early next year. As of Monday afternoon, the page had raised more than $4,000 toward a $10,000 goal.

“Austen, two years I spent with you were the best days of my life. And I can’t believe you are gone,” — his wife on the GoFundMe page.

“I love you, and I miss you. I probably won’t stop crying for years thinking about you. But I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for the love, sacrifice, laugh, dreams and the memories you’ve given me. You have completely changed me, and I’m so so grateful for that. I will see you soon, and we will be together again in the presence of God.”


joochan3 & Yuki Lee

Joochan/Austen and Yuki Lee


Moody’s Aviation Program was found in 1946 to train missionary pilots.

This is the first fatal accident in 50 years for Moody Aviation.


Jon Egeler is a Moody graduate and president of Mission Safety International which was founded in 1983 “to reduce the number of missionary aviation accidents. It works anywhere missionary pilots fly: And in many countries, it’s the only organization available to investigate an accident.”

Egeler: “Investigating an accident is a lot like investigating anything else… but it’s taking pieces of a puzzle, pieces of evidence and putting it together… You first try to establish what happened in the accident itself, and then you work backwards and figure out why it happened…

As we determine what happened, and why it happened, those lessons are recorded and what we would do is we publish reports of these accidents and then distribute them to the missions so that they are aware of them.

We’ll often use an accident as a case study. And so each time an accident occurs, it helps to increase the collective knowledge of the whole community and we share those lessons so that we don’t repeat the mistakes of others.”

Ken Smoll is also a 1993 pilot/mechanic graduate of the Moody program and is also the founder of Blue Tide Aero which also trains missionary aviators.  He has worked with Samaritan’s Purse in Kenya from 2009-2017.

Smoll: “Most aircraft accidents are the result of a long series of events …it’s possible that the first seven are common to most mission aviation organizations. Well, if you can interrupt that process anywhere along the way, you can often prevent the accident…When we get in airplanes, when we work on airplanes, the thoughts of this accident are always pretty close to our minds, and it stops us. We recheck a fitting, we go back to the manual and read the instructions one more time just to make sure we didn’t do something wrong. The people that we knew from this accident recently come back to mind and you just stop for a minute because you think about them and their families and their kids and you know, that there’s a lot at risk every time we take to the air.”


Key Illustrative Thoughts:

• Why
• Say not today or tomorrow
• Who knew?
• loss
• pain / grief / despair
• It started out as a normal day.
• No one is exempt.
• All things work together — for good — maybe not good, but for good
• testimony of hope
• just along for the flight
• realized risk
• our sure hope
• in-flight break-up
• preliminary report
• an observer
• missing!?


Key Phrases For Use & Emphasis:

• we recheck again because you think about them
• always close to our minds
• the result of a long series of events
• so we don’t repeat the mistakes of others
• publish it so others don’t make the same mistakes
• what happened and then work backwards
• it was a clear day
• Thank you for your love, sacrifice
• I will see you soon


Additional Information & Links




Dear Moody Family,

I come with a heavy heart with further news about the July 13th fatal crash near Spokane involving a Moody Aviation aircraft. It has been a difficult time since Friday, as we awaited confirmation from the Coroner about the identity of those on board the plane.

Today, the Stevens County Coroner released the names of those who were on board.  I wanted to share with you the names of our brothers in Christ who went home to the Lord.

  • Joochan (Austen) Lee: A fourth-year Missionary Aviation Technology student at Moody Aviation, Austen is survived by his wife, Yuki, who is expecting their first child early next year.
  • Diego Senn: Special Instructor of Missionary Aviation Technology at Moody Aviation and an alum of the Moody Aviation program. He is survived by his wife, Naomi, and their four children, one of whom is due later this year.
  • Andrew Trouten: A fourth-year Missionary Aviation Technology student at Moody Aviation, Andrew is survived by his wife, Rebecca, and their daughter.

We continue to grieve with Moody Aviation and the family and loved ones of Austen, Diego and Andrew. They were husbands, fathers, sons, friends and our brothers in Christ. While we grieve, the Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Thessalonica assures us that we do so with great hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). These men knew the Lord, and are enjoying His full presence. Their faith is now sight.

Austen, Diego and Andrew will be remembered for dedicating their lives to advancing the cause of Christ through aviation. We will be sharing more of their stories in the days ahead as an encouragement to others in their service to the Lord.

May we as the body of Christ continue to seek the Lord in prayer and come around these men’s families during this time of mourning and remembrance.

Greg Thornton
Interim President



Joochan “Austen” Lee was a fourth-year Missionary Aviation Technology student. The 24-year-old was recently married to Yuki, whom he met at Moody Bible Institute’s former biblical studies campus in Spokane. Days before the crash, Joochan and Yuki learned that they were expecting their first child.

Joochan grew up in a missionary family, with his parents serving in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. As an adult, he came to the United States to pursue education and mission aviation training. “I wanted to learn more about God through a solid Bible curriculum that Moody offered as well as train to be a missionary pilot, something that is much needed on the field,” Joochan said in a recent newsletter to those who supported him and Yuki. “I packed my bags and flew in faith believing that God would be in control.”

Joochan met Yuki in an intercultural studies class at Moody Bible Institute in Spokane where she was a TESOL major (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). According to a friend, the two first met when Yuki’s tablet broke, and Joochan offered to help fix it.

Yuki and Joochan had a great deal in common. She grew up in a missionary family serving in Japan. They married in April 2017. Yuki said, “Joochan wanted to be a missionary and go into places that couldn’t be reached by car. He wanted to fly in with supplies, medical, food and Bibles. I was open to doing anything he wanted to do. I wanted to follow him.

Joochan and Yuki attended and served with a local Korean congregation in Spokane. Joochan became an assistant pastor and worked with the children. Another close friend and fellow fourth-year student remembers Joochan sharing his excitement when he learned he would become a father. He was devoted to Yuki and wanted to care for her and their child. Finances continued to press on his life throughout his time in the United States. But just before he died, he learned that an anonymous donor had paid his debt for the last semester. That gift was a huge encouragement to him.

Joochan recently wrote, “When my heart was starting to feel burdened [by the pressures of school and finances], I was once again reminded of why God called me to Moody. Before the Ascension, Jesus said in Acts 1:8, ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ As God has called both our families to the mission field, I believe God has also called Yuki and I to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth through aviation. Above all, we can be the salt and light of Jesus Christ as we are exposed to people who do not know Christ.”

Just one day after Joochan’s death, Yuki and her mother went to her first ultrasound appointment. A friend reported that the moment was bittersweet, but Yuki left “grinning from ear to ear.” Joochan’s friend said, “If she can find hope, then there is hope for us. I’m glad this baby is a source of joy for her.”

pdf of Moody Tribute


Mission aviation safety

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.