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Kingdom Air Corps

Kingdom Air Corps

Kingdom Air Corps was founded in 1999 by Reverend Dwayne King. It trains missionary pilots to fly in the most rugged places on earth and spread the gospel. In some parts of the world, like Far East Russia, over 90% of villages are not accessible by road. Airplanes, however, are able to fly in and reach these villages, allowing the pilot missionary to minister to these isolated populations.

Missionaries train and obtain their pilot certificates at the Kingdom Air Corps flight training base in Alaska, where the terrain makes more than 85% of villages inaccessible by road. “You can learn to fly anywhere. There are lots of programs. But to teach people to fly in remote locations with challenges like short airstrips, mountains, and strong winds, you have to be in a place that has those things. That’s the advantage we have in our Alaska operation,” said Nancy Crane, Treasurer.

The goal of Kingdom Air is to be affordable, so it relies on the commitment and support of volunteers. Students are only asked to make a donation to help cover the cost of fuel and food, so they are able to get trained and certified for a very low cost. “We’ve trained students from all over the world with the advantage that they can take the gospel back and share it, because they’re nationals,” said Nancy.

Outdated Database and Manual Spreadsheet Processes Led to Inefficiencies and Worker Stress

Jonathan Tack, a Knack expert partner began working with Kingdom Air in 2005, when he learned the organization needed help with its database management. Already a Knack builder who was starting a business designing databases, Jonathan answered the call and got to work.

The first goal was to replace the organization’s existing Access database, which was becoming obsolete. All of Kingdom Air’s contacts were stored in the access database and it needed something more flexible and cloud-based to make the information readily available to everyone who needed it. 

Beyond contact management, Kingdom Air’s operational processes were entrenched in Excel spreadsheets and paper printouts. With a staff of a dozen people tasked with managing the work and scheduling of 200 people, including volunteers, work teams and students, those manual processes created a lot of inefficiency in planning for the housing, meals, training flights, and all other aspects of the operation.

Redesigned Contact Database Provides a Foundation for Operational Success 

Moving Kingdom Air’s contact database into Knack provided the foundation for optimizing all other operational processes and workflows. “We started with contact management, and then connected it to email, housing, volunteers, aircraft – everything Kingdom Air needed to do online is now done in Knack,” said Jonathan. 

“We started with contact management, and then connected it to email, housing, volunteers, aircraft – everything Kingdom Air needed to do online is now done in Knack,”

Jonathan Tack, Knack Expert

Shifting all operational processes to an online database was especially important because Kingdom Air has volunteers spread across their campus in Alaska, as well as in North Carolina and New York. Unlike the Access database or Excel spreadsheets, Knack lets people, regardless of location, have real-time access to the information they need to organize the ministry and manage volunteers and students.

Kingdom Air’s data lives in one Knack app that connects each area of the operation. The database is designed so it connects to each person’s calendar, their airplanes, housing assignment, and the vehicles they take. It eliminates the time that used to be spent sifting through spreadsheets and printouts to get a full view. 

Within the database, all contacts are grouped by role. It identifies whether the person is a team member, team leader, administrative worker, or missionary. Knack’s role-based user access capabilities enable each individual to access the information that’s relevant and necessary to their role, while ensuring data security and privacy for the larger database.

Optimized Housing Scheduling Process Expands Volunteer Support

“We were dying when Jonathan came to us with Knack,” said Nancy. “We were maintaining a giant Excel spreadsheet for housing to try to figure out when people were coming and going and if there was a room available for someone to sleep. It was really a nightmare,” she added. 

Having all the housing units along with student and volunteer schedules now stored in a single-source Knack app gives the organization accurate, up-to-date information at their fingertips.

“It gives much more confidence for the person in the scheduling role,” said Nancy. That’s reduced the stress on the worker side and has enabled them to bring significantly more volunteers to the Alaska campus because of the newfound confidence in schedules and availability. There’s no longer a need to hedge against double-booking errors or out-of-date schedules.

“Spreadsheets were headaches galore because everything lived on that one sheet and one person had to know it all. The ability to operate smoothly, house people and do the job improved dramatically thanks to Knack,” said Nancy. 

The housing data is also helpful to the kitchen workers. It used to be difficult to plan meals because they didn’t have easy access to an accurate daily headcount. Now they can check the app to see how many beds are full and know immediately how many meals to prepare.

End-to-End Management of Airplane and Training Records

Kingdom Air owns, operates, and maintains airplanes in Alaska and Pennsylvania. Before Knack, they managed inspection and maintenance records using Excel. “Files were passed from mechanic to mechanic via email,” said Jonathan. 

While spreadsheets allowed the information to be recorded and shared, it was obsolete as soon as it was sent out. “If a mechanic made updates or edits, the file had to be mailed out again,” added Jonathan. The system was clunky and made keeping up with version control a challenge.

In the new system, Knack provides an up-to-date, single source of truth for airplane inspection and maintenance records. And Knack even manages the students and their flight records. The student application system comes into Knack and tracks their progress, keeping a comprehensive student record in one place. And each student is responsible for entering their flight hours into the app as they work toward certification. 

Improved Vehicle Management and Volunteer Coordination

Since the operation is mostly supported by volunteers, it means frequent trips to the airport because most volunteers are not local to Alaska. Because the airport is a two-hour drive from the Kingdom Air campus, it requires a lot of orchestration. 

Knack streamlines that process by connecting the person responsible for pickup with an assigned vehicle to drive, and information about the person arriving. The app provides the person’s name, flight number, and arrival time. And leveraging an integration between Knack and Twilio, it also sends a text reminder to keep everything on track. “The reminder says, ‘you need to be in Anchorage at noon. You’ll take this vehicle and pick up five people at this time from this airline,’” said Jonathan. The driver also gets the phone number of the person they’re picking up, making communication easy when they arrive at the airport.

Better Stakeholder Communication

Knack has also improved the communication between Kingdom Air and its stakeholders. The organization maintains an email list of over 2,000 people, including volunteers and donors. Jonathan leveraged the integration between Mailchimp and Knack, making it easy to send regular newsletter emails to keep everyone updated and informed about what’s going on at Kingdom Air Corps. 

What’s Next for Kingdom Air Corps and Knack?

“We’ve moved almost every operational area to Knack, so everyone has real-time access to make their job more efficient and less stressful,” said Jonathan.

The team at Kingdom Air is always identifying new opportunities to streamline and connect it’s processes, and Knack makes it easy to iterate the app to make continuous improvements.