A New View: Inside Prayer One with Jet Linx Private Jets
Prayer One Ministries, founded by Puckett and Pastor Tom Melton in 2005, serves a unique purpose: to foster collaboration between various members of Denver’s clerical population, to give church leaders a break from their everyday service and to pray over the city of Denver.
“You just come up here and you kind of forget about your troubles down below us,” Puckett said. Puckett took Melton on his inaugural helicopter ride when Melton was going through a difficult personal time. “I just wanted to get him up and let him feel what I feel every time I fly,” Puckett said. Soon, the two began inviting other religious leaders in Denver to join them.
Puckett bought his first helicopter in 2004, after flying for twenty years. Now flying a Bell 407 named ‘Yellow Bird,’ Puckett’s hope is simple. “What if every person in Denver, when they look up and see a helicopter flying, they might ask “I wonder if that’s a group of pastors praying over our city?”
It might be a group of pastors, but Puckett’s ministry extends beyond the religious community. Teachers, students, politicians and even gang members have all taken flight on Yellow Bird with Puckett as pilot. “It changed my view of the city,” Melton said. “There were no neighborhoods; there were no boundaries.”
“The mission of Yellow Bird has included taking youth, sex trafficking victims, mall shooting victims, young pastors, missionaries, gang members and teachers completely out of their normal everyday element,” said Kathy Hartzler, Jet Linx Denver Vice President of Finance and Operations. Hartzler participates in Prayer One Ministries in addition to her duties around the Jet Linx Denver office. “I’m amazed at howmany haven’t experienced flying before their ride in Prayer One. To observe the range of emotions that each passenger expresses, from excitement, fear, thankfulness to amazement, fills my cup absolutely full. It reminds me each day how blessed I am.”
Hartzler became involved in Prayer One from the start of her time with Jet Linx. “In 2011, I interviewed with Jet Linx and my job recruiter forwarded me information about Jeff and Prayer One,” she recalled. “Having served in nearly 10 missions in the Czech Republic, teaching English and playing soccer with adults and high school aged kids, the opportunity to include Prayer One in my everyday work was a very large part of my decision to work for Jeff.”
Working with Prayer One has become a large part of Hartzler’s life. She’s been at almost every Yellow Bird event since 2011, and her passion for the ministry shines. “Recently, some high school students from Ace Community School came to fly as they had been working on building a model helicopter. One of the boys walked into our facility and said, ‘I don’t belong here.’ I responded, ‘You absolutely belong here.’ My favorite thing is to choose the shyest girl or scared boy to ride in the front seat with Jeff, he allows them to ‘fly’ the helicopter and it opens up their world.”
The story of the Yellow Bird is spreading: messages to Prayer One’s Facebook page request prayers as the helicopter flies over the prison, for an inmate there who has spotted the helicopter during time outside. The sight of the helicopter brings hope to those who see it, and sometimes for a reason beyond the ministry. Puckett volunteers for the Douglas County sheriff’s department. The department doesn’t have its own helicopter, and Puckett found another way to contribute to the community. “I talked to an attorney friend of mine and offered to fly my helicopter for them,” he said. He’s assisted the S.W.A.T. team, flown surveillance and assisted in reconnaissance missions.
Puckett doesn’t ask for money in return for his helicopter rides. “There’s a verse in the Bible, ‘To those whom much is given, much is expected.’ I really feel a responsibility to give back,” he said. Instead, he asks for the riders to pay it forward. “Everybody in their life has something that’s their ‘helicopter.’ Ask yourself ‘what’s your helicopter? What can I bring to my community and my friends and people I don’t know?’ If you can find your own helicopter, it’s kind of a really rewarding thing.”