But today the strip looked great. It was wide and long and cleared off right down to the dirt. It had been surfaced with some gravely type of stuff called marum and looked like no problem at all. I ran down the runway to take a good look at the surface. There were still rough bits on the edges and I was very up and down….Well, actually down and then up and then down again so on a takeoff you can not see the back half of the runway.
After landing I turned around and hundreds of people gathered around to see the plane. The local pastor prayed for the strip to be blessed. All around it was a very interesting scene. I took a motorcycle the length of the strip and marked it at 1000 meters. Not bad.We flew over to Faradje from there and as I approached the airstrip a huge MI-26 Russian helicopter came in from the other direction. I landed first and pulled off the runway as far as I possibly could but it didn’t feel far enough so I motioned to the Landcruiser there to please move out of the way and I circled around again to get even further off. The MI-26 was heavily loaded so had to make a running landing. As he came closer to the ground the whole area was enveloped in dust in the biggest swirl I had ever seen made. Only the nose was sticking out and it was all coming my way. I reached for my camera as it came closer. Even though it was not as great a picture as earlier, it was still impressive. I had a nice chat with the pilots and then another helicopter, an MI-8, landed making another great dust storm and completely blocked my departure so I stayed a bit longer and got a nice tour of the MI-26.
It was a very nice day at the office.