It was a beautiful day at the office. But they all are. I love my office up in the front of the Caravan. Great big wrap around windows looking out over the rainforests of Congo at 12,500 feet. This beats a corner office in a high rise in New York any day.
We were flying a doctor and his CBM team, a mission that works to alleviate the eye problems that so plague Africa. It was a relatively short trip from Nebobongo to Amadi as part of their round-robin clinics in the area. There is river blindness here along the Uele River as well as cataracts and much more. I have assisted in cataract surgeries before, which is quite a thing to see. I remember an old couple in Binga, Zimbabwe who had not seen each other for years. They both had cataract surgery the same day. Their eyes were covered with patches of gauze and I was there the next morning as the patches came off. The doctor held up 3 fingers and asked the old man what he saw. But instead he looked past the doctor and over at his wife and said, “Wow, you got OLD!”I am impressed with these doctors’ work and commitment to help the people of Congo and all of Africa.
The airstrip at Amadi is actually the road into town. There are just a bit more of the trees cleared back in this section to allow for the wings to clear and a place to turn around at the end. I flew over to check the airstrip twice, then circled around to land. As I got on short final, a man on a motorcycle shot out of the tree-mottled beginning section of the “runway” into the part that was cleared. The man was clueless that we were there and carried on down the road. As I started to add power to go around, I saw that there was actually plenty of room ahead to continue the landing which I did without incident. I turned the airplane around and watched the man ride timidly up to about 100 meters in front of the plane and stop. When I shut down the engine, he pulled up by the door and pointed apologetically to his big earphones and said, “I was listening to music and didn’t hear you!” The 21st century meets rural Africa. Who would’ve thought!