Sir Michael Walters
Founder, CEO & President

Why Wings? Our founder’s amazing story of discovering purpose through perseverance.

During the 1980’s, while chasing my dream career as a television producer, God had other plans for my life which began when I was invited to document a talented medical team restoring the lives of 11 severely burned children in La Paz, Bolivia. And within those 10 amazing days, it was through the camera lens that I saw what a love that knows no borders can accomplish in changing the lives of suffering victims of disasters!

After our medical team returned from a successful medical mission in Bolivia, the executive producer surprised me his plans to equip the team to provide disaster response, complete with our own C-130 aircraft. I did not hesitate to accept his offer to permanently join this team because those 10 days in Bolivia were so amazing for me. But as fate had it, the producer died a few weeks later, and the passing of my good friend and mentor, along with the loss of his plans for this airborne disaster response haunts me still, even after 40 plus years.

Fast forward another 10 years, I traveled to Brazil to document their maasive orphan crisis, where again through the lens I experienced a second “wake-up” call. It was there in a small favela which consisted of a deep drainage ditch, with dirt floor shantys positioned on either side, a father approached me, so desperate to share his haunting story. This heart-broken father told me that while their children slept on the dirt floors, the rains would come and a raging torrent of water would sweep their children away to their deaths in midst of the darknesss. This tearful father’s only request was, if I could somehow supply a drainage culvert to divert the flood waters, the deaths and nightmares would end for these struggling families.  I shared this desperate father’s story with churches in Brazil and in the U.S.  My appeal on behalf of this poor community fell on deaf ears and cold hearts. No one was interested in helping someone else’s children in another land, and I experienced first-hand an apathy that runs too rampant in our world, then and even still today.

Through the following years having seen first-hand the lack of adequate response in the aftermath of several major hurricanes in my own state and city, these personal experiences inspired me to invest in years of  research concerning how government and non-profit groups responded to catastrophic events. Report after report I discovered that while each these events were each different, the results were tragically all the same, where lives that could have been saved were lost. Lives who were someone’s parent or grandparent, uncle or aunt, cousin, sibling or child or grandchild. Each of the hundreds of thousands of life were all tragically lost due to apathy! Somewhere someone decided the cost of saving lives was determined to be too high a cost to pay and that status quo would have to be good enough. This is not true, because for every dollar invested, it would save a minimum of six-dollars!  I say we cannot afford as a world to continue living morally and financially bankrupt. So the question our world has to answer is, do we invest now, or do we pay a much greater cost later? 

In my conclusion, I determined that our world needed a smarter disaster response, to save more lives through a true end to end mission, providing rapid-response, recovery and resilience. That is the very reason why I formed Wings CRS with a firm commitment to taking catastrophe response to the next level and beyond to save more lives!

In the following years, I  worked diligently to formulate the plans for a formidable global response that would go beyond the status quo. We approached major foundations, trusts, private investors, and high level government officials across the world, and their unanimous response was, “we love your plan but, we do not care about saving lives!” Tragically our world suffers immensely because those who have the power to change our world for the better, have little regard for saving lives and this is why our world is morally and financially bankrupt, a heavy toll we can no longer afford to continue.

Thirty years later and through perseverance, we finally secured the funding commitment for this global mission, but that was just one of many hurdles to overcome. After all, “where much is given, much is required!” Great visions never manifest into reality overnight. Read all the histories of the great entrepreneurs, past and present, and their stories are all the same. There are no short cuts, and no instruction manual. We must recognize that the greater the task we are called to the greater the resiliency that is required in each of us. We are ultimately refined through the refining fires of perseverance and self-sacrifice in order to be able to deliver beyond what others see only as impossible to accomplish. 

For me, there is no greater joy than serving, especially serving those in their most desperate hour. At Wings CRS “we do this all for love”, because when it comes to saving lives, there is no paycheck that matches the joy. Through these past years, this amazing journey has been a truly transformative experience for me, and I am personally thankful for those who have supported this mission, even if their support was for a brief time. Truly it can be said for this mission that, “all gave some and some gave all !”  

Soon our air fleet will begin to arrive, accompanied by over 15 thousand full-time dedicated and passionate team members, most being military veterans. But for both our civilian and veteran team members they will find a new purpose far greater than themselves, and all will be committed to this one common goal, “to take catastrophe response to the next level and beyond to save more lives, because we ask ourselves, and we ask you, what is one life worth?”

Perhaps the very life we will save will be your own.