Monday, on my way back from Beni, I had a pickup in Boga so I took the opportunity to run down the Tchabi airstrip to see how improvements were going. The grass was still very high on the end away from the village and there was a football field with goal posts in front of the church, but it was getting better. Just not usable yet. The last time the strip had been used was about 4 years earlier when I flew in to pick up a man who had broken his leg badly. I thought they had been very clever by building a wooden box to keep his leg from wiggling about as he was carried from the village and we picked him up to load him in the plane.
Now with a bit more peace and our base at Nyankunde starting up again there is easier access to the hospital there from the surrounding communities and getting the little airstrips fixed up again is of greater value to everyone. Boga is being kept up and now Tchabi and there is talk of Burasi and some others to follow. We are pretty excited about that.
Tchabi is in the mountains opposite the Samliki valley and is cool and fresh. It has a challenging little airstrip. The first 100 meters are pretty flat and narrow before a road crosses it. Then it widens out a bit and, being in the hills, goes downhill, side slanting for a couple hundred meters, then it goes uphill quite a bit to where the village and church and a little market are up against each side. It levels out again for 100 meters or so, where they have the football field, (soccer for those of you in the USA). This is the nicest part. The rest has termite mounds and vehicle ruts that the people have been repairing, but work will need to continue. There are a few 100 more meters of bounders and side slanty stuff just to keep things interesting. Being at 5000 feet, with density altitude adding an extra negative for the power output of our non- turbocharged airplanes, we must limit our loads out of there.
The people were so excited to have a plane come back, and bringing in Dr. Samy who is from the area added to the joy. All the pastors were there and proud of the work that had been done. We all walked the full length of the strip, checking out every hole and mound and length of grass and I tried to encourage them to keep improving but also thanked them for the great job they had done already using just a few pangas or machetes.
As I lifted off and leveled out, I waggled my wings in the customary aircraft wave goodbye and headed for Nyankunde, feeling the difference a little plane dedicated to serving can make in the lives of people in remote areas like this. It was a great day at the office.