It has been a pretty normal week with lots of flying. There has been a lot of MSF flying; supplies and people. We went into Bangadi, a place I haven’t been for quite a while, and there was no strip chart or “Jungle Jepps” on the place so I took the time to walk the airstrip and take all its’ information down.How Long– which I can pace off and get a very accurate length.
The Altitude – Observed by the altimeter when on the ground.
Surface Conditions – What it is made of – grass, gravel, sand. Holes, Ruts, obstacles, approach and departure- trees, people, termite mounds, roads crossing, slope, all of that kind of stuff.
Runway headings – off the GPS when we are lined up with the runway.
Actual Co-ordinates – when we are sitting on the ground take the exact place. You would be surprised at how far away the actual airstrip is from its’ place on a map sometimes!
Then I can make limitations for safer operations depending on the condition, like limiting takeoff to 200 kgs. under or only taking off to the west.There were some different types of termite mounds here which I really enjoyed. They have their own little roofs and look like the thatched African houses that are so common here. Sometimes the mounds even have four or five levels, like a multi-storey building. Then there are some of the big mounds that stand higher than a man. All of these are hazards on the runway as they are hard as brick when dry and honeycombed so the nose wheel of the plane can drop right into them when the ground is soft from the rain. Seeing these from the air is a useful skill any pilot here should cultivate.
Bangadi is in the thick of LRA area and the FARDC and UPDF are there to defend the people. I had a pleasant talk with some of the Uganda guys. It was nice for me to be able to speak English and we chatted about living very close when I was there in Uganda. They are doing a good job and were very friendly to me. A cup of cool water really goes down well in the hot/dusty outback of Africa and I was thankful.Yesterday I flew over to Entebbe and picked up a load of supplies for the Mungbere Hospital out in the forest. Mungbere and Entebbe are very different from one another. Entebbe has numerous big jets parked across the ramp, bringing things from all over the world. Busy, Clean, Organized…in comparison. Crowd control. That is what is needed in Mungbere, where literally hundreds of people surround the plane. There are actually men with sticks swatting at kids like flies, trying to keep them all at bay. I had two special beds for orthopedics as well as medicine, big batteries and tools for operations. It was quite a load. 5 pallets of stuff. I didn’t think there was any way to get it all on, but after taking most of the things out of their boxes we managed with room to spare. It is always good to see things like this coming to Congo and help being given where it is so needed. I also bought a length of hand made rope made out of bamboo that looks for all the world like a big piece of steel cable, except for the color. I love these people’s bushcraft skills. Then there was the little girl who wanted me to buy her young baboon. Not going there!