Steve Canyon's "Mr Michael" was Mike Stimac of Wings for Progress enabled by the SJHRC Flying Program!    
St. Joe's High School Radio Club Mr. Michael 
Medical Mission 
Bush Pilot
". . .Mr Michael"

In his "Steve Canyon" comic strip, Milt Caniff featured "real life" stories
about Mike Stimac and the "Wings for Progress" missions in Africa
that grew out of the SJHRC flying program!



Steve Canyon Comics, Copyright 1968, Field Enterprises

This STEVE CANYON comic strip shows the UMATT and "Wings for Progress" white-dove logo!

Steve Canyon by Milt Caniff

As the story continues Poteet Canyon meets "Jane Fairhill" and "Mr Michael"

Steve Canyon w/ Mr. Michael

Below, the real "Mr Michael"   --Mike Stimac relaxes with mission staff members.
(No doubt, all those bottles merely held various type of healthy "fruit drinks"!)
From this picture one can easily see the resemblance of Steve Canyon's "Mr Michael"
to Mike Stimac in the cartoon above!


Mike Stimac & Nurses

On a trip with the Range Rover,  Mike and a nurse
stop to check on a mother and her kids.


Range Rover Stop
Milt Caniff
self portrait
(Milt Caniff self portrait)

Milt Caniff's "Steve Canyon"

features "Mr. Michael"


One of the SJHRC activities that was eventually taken up by others became part of history imortalized in the work of leading American artist Milton Caniff in the aviation oriented comic strip "Steve Canyon"! It was his way of promoting a project that had impressed him greatly. The whole story begins with the extreme familiarity with airplanes that evolved from the SJHRC adventures.

Click here to read:
"Airplane Adventures"

When Mike Stimac started going to Africa in 1960, he was appalled at the difficulties that missionaries in the wilderness outposts experienced, and soon was joined by SJHRC members, graduates, and parents in an effort to help. Equipment donations flowed, and stations were set up to connect the outposts by ham radio. A foundation was set up: United Missionary Aviation Training & Transport. Over the years, the funding organizations and industrial sponsors saw to it that eventually eight airplanes and operating funds were provided, and UMATT flew to 140 isolated mission outposts, in many African countries --Malawi, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Ethiopia, and they even touched down in Egypt and Saudi Arabia in passing, --and even "behind the lines as in Biafra and Nigeria"--as mentioned in the comic strip.

Milton Caniff was an Ohio man who started with a Columbus newspaper long ago and died in the 1998. Recently he was written up in the Columbus Dispatch.

Click here to read:
"From Pirates to Pilots"

Shown here is a bit of Milt's work. The logos of UMATT and "Wings for Progress" with the white dove on a blue background (or no background) were often featured. The Wings for Progress name was adopted when Stateside supporters handed over responsibility for the project to African leaders from our government and the Society of Mary.

"Milton used authentic incidents of which there was an inexhaustable supply." --Mike Stimac

Three key players were frequently featured in "Steve Canyon":

Jane Hamilton of the University of Dayton, who Milt called Jane Fairhill;

Bill St. Andre, a young pilot from Columbus;

and Mike Stimac, as "Mr. Michael".


One can easily see the resemblance of "Mr Michael" to our archive photo of Mike Stimac shown further below where he is relaxing between flights taking a break with the mission staff at one of the outposts!

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In 2007, Ohio State University maintained a special Cartoon Research Library, which included a large collection on Milton Caniff's work, and frequently special exhibits were set up, especially in the Columbus area.

Coincidentally, just as the SJHRC was celebrating 50 years since Sputnik, and the ensuing "Airplane Adventures" which spawned UMATT and Wings for Progress featured by Milton Caniff in the cartoons at left, Milt's work was again being honored.  

"Rarities: Unusual works from the Milton Caniff Collection" continued through January 19th, 2008 in the Cartoon Research Library, 27 W.17th Ave. Mall at OSU.

"Spotlight on Milton Caniff" ran from October 25th 2007 through March 2, 2008 in the Ohio Historical Center at I-71 and E.17th Street.

Links:

Ohio Historical Center
Milton Caniff


---updated May 5, 2017------

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