Captain’s Log-27 January 2012- Shoulder Shot

Kids stand under the wing to see what is going on with the plane. Sorry but I left my camera home for the shoulder shot man.

Getting a call to pick up a man who has been shot always sparks speculation as to how such a thing has happened, and this time was no exception. Especially because of the area it was in.  There have been many attacks by the LRA around Bangadi so one always suspects them.  It was hot and dusty by the time I got there in the Cessna 206, “ndege kidogo” as it is often called by the locals using this plane; the “Little airplane”.  And the 40 degree Celsius temperature was physically draining.
As I landed and parked with UN troops all around, one of the soldiers came up to the door and said their supply helicopter was coming in right then and would I please move.  I looked through the windscreen and, sure enough, a big MI-8 was coming toward us, and not far away.  I got on the radio, told the Russian pilots that I would move the plane down to the end of the strip and started up again.
The MI-8 landed right where I had been in its’ usual enveloping cloud of dust as the nurse and I walked back to try to find our patient.  As we got there a couple of motorcycles, or piki-pikis, drove up, one having 3 people on it.  The driver sat in front, of course. The patient sat in the center, dressed in camo shorts with a hole in the crotch, a short sleeved red shirt with bandages sticking out each shoulder where he had been shot and slops for shoes. The man in the back sandwiched the patient in so as to keep him from falling off on the bumpy trip from town.  He looked like he was in pain as he sat with hands placed gingerly on his lap. His head was also bandaged from another wound.  We pointed them toward the plane and walked back again.
It always surprises me the level of pain and discomfort the average African will tolerate, and this man was no exception.  Trying to help him into the back of the plane where I had taken out the seats and placed a mattress, I took his feet and the motorcycle “ambulance” driver took him under his arms.  The patient grimaced in pain and said he couldn’t stand that because of the bullet holes in his shoulders and asked him to please take him by the head instead.  Whereupon, the man was grabbed by one hand behind his neck and one under his chin and lifted into place on the mattress!  This got a smile out of the patient and what must have been a very curious look from me.
We took off as the big MI-8’s rotors started turning and bumped our way in the heat back to Dungu and the hospital there.
I got back to Bunia around 2:20 and since our other 206 was still out and didn’t have time to do one more leg after his return, I took his last flight to Mambassa.  The burning grass fires around Bunia were so bad that it was almost IFR until I got a bit further out over the forest.  Africa is burning this time of year and the sky is just full of smoke.  I look forward to the rains and some clearer skies.  But it was an interesting day at the office none the less.

Some of the many bush fires burning around Congo now. The smoke in the sky is quite remarkable. This is just a little one.

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8 Responses to Captain’s Log-27 January 2012- Shoulder Shot

  1. Honza says:

    yes, i am really looking forward to meet African people. This must be great part of this job. Well, if you dont mind, I have one more question to you. My big dream is to be a flight instructor. Here in Europe I want to be an instructor for microlights and propeller aircraft, maybe gliders. Is it possible to do this in Africa ? Just like a part time activity or maybe full time? I really want to do that, so i just wanted to ask you about opportunities. I dont know anything about flight schools in Africa.
    Thank you very much

    • jcadd says:

      Hi Honza, There are flight schools around. Not in Congo that I know of. Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, all have good running schools. I am an instructor as well and it is a great way to get principles of flight well seated in your mind when you have to teach them to others. Cheers,

  2. Honza says:

    thank you for your answer. Well , but i dont understand, why i have to have a licence from country, i will fly in. What if I want to do my ATPL licence and IFR maybe here in Europe. Is it a big problem?
    If it will be possible, i want to start flying in small cessnas as a bush pilot. I like the style of life. As i heared you ussualy have to sleep in a plane where ever you land. that sounds also advntures,what do you thing ? Or you thing better flying is in Caravan, or maybe later on L-410. ?
    Thank you, and have only nice flights !

    • jcadd says:

      Your license from the country you come from is usually good and you get a validation for the country you fly in usually. Some countries make you sit an air law test and maybe even a flight test. Some places you just pay! A Cessna is a great place to start. But you are always learning and growing. That is a lot of the fun of it. I have slept in the plane at times but thankfully it is not the norm. You are usually flying people to places and are very kind to give you a bed and feed you. The people is one of the greatest parts. Keep learning! Jon

  3. Kim says:

    Jon, just discovered your blog and am enjoying it immensely! Would love to correspond with you about your experiences in the Congo.

  4. Honza says:

    Hello , My name is Honza and i am from Europe. I must say, that I really love your stories. flying in Africa is my big dream. Now, I am flying my time building after PPL. Can I ask you something about flying in Africa? For example how many hours and what licences Do I need ? Do you thing that is neccesary to have IFR and MEP ratting ? I must say, i dont rally care what aircraft I will fly with, i just love Africa ! This is real life.
    Thank you and good luck. Your articles are very motivating.

    • jcadd says:

      We fly on a Congo license here in Congo and you usually have to get a license for whatever country you are flying in if you fly that countries registered aircraft. Our pilots are all at least commercial pilots which requires an IFR rating but lots of us have ATP Airline Transport Pilots licenses as well. Africa is great. Glad you are reading. Thanks for the comments.Cheers,

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