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Jay | Susan | Alex | Beth | Samantha
September 26, 2008 4:43 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

It was a rather slow day.  Yesterday and the day before were DCC: District Church Council.  Which meant that I sat in the back of the church all day on a VERY hard bench and practiced swahili, listening to the pastors from the churches in the area discuss issues.  I got just enough of it to get the subject under discussion, but other than that….

This morning I flew Jim Teasdale back to Loiyangalani, since the DCC went late last night (we finsihed about 7:45 pm).  Then spent the rest of the day getting the car ready to drive to Nairobi next week, and repairing a gas stove for one of the dorm parents at Haven Home.

We’ll be going down to Nairobi on Wednsday the 1st, driving through Ngurunit (and spending the night there) then arriving in Nairobi on Thursday evening.

So…nothing profound, or exciting. Just work today.  And a fun flight.  Tomorrow is Ngororoi and Nolpilipili taking two more pastors home.

September 22, 2008 8:34 am
Published in: Uncategorized

AIM has made blog sites available, so here we go.  Let me know what you think!  This one or the blogspot site…I’ll keep both up for a while to see which folks like beter.

Not much going on today…I fueled the plane and am making some flight arrangements for a video crew to come to Loiyangalani.  Susan and the kids are busy with home school.  Pretty much a typical day here at Gatab.

September 22, 2008 8:31 am
Published in: Uncategorized

This week has been a big one for animals on runways. Wednesday I took the nurses to Olturot for a mobile clinic. It took me three attempts to land because the locals were driving their herd of camels down the runway. Not across, but along. Sigh. I had a long talk with the village elders after that. The gist of it was “When you hear the airplane coming, please clear the runway. I’ll go around once in case some one hasn’t realized, but if the people are still driving their animals along the runway, and I have to go around a second time, I’m not coming back.” They thought that was pretty reasonable and said they’d see to it. We’ll see. I went back there the next day to pick up an injured man and bring him to Gatab. No animals near the runway. Maybe they listened.

Then yesterday morning there was another clinic at Nolpilipili. As I was landing I saw a boy driving a few donkeys across the runway. No hurry, not chasing after animals, just going here to there. I buzzed the kid and his donkeys and brought the nurses back to Gatab. I’ve been telling them for months in Nolpilipili to keep the animals off the runway. “We’ll do it. We’ll fix the fence…” etc., etc. I’m curious to see what the reaction is. I’m a little surprised I haven’t heard already.

The reason for all this is summed up by an incident another flight organization had recently. The pilot was on the ground, repositioning the airplane. Due to the runway conditions the pilot had to keep a bit of speed up. The pilot saw goats running up on the side of the airplane, the side toward which the pilot was turning the plane. Then the pilot saw two herd boys running after their goats. Straight toward the propeller. The only option to splattering the two herd boys with the prop was to put the airplane into a ditch. Herd boys safe, people on plane safe. Plane damaged to the tune of $100,000 to $250,000.

Here at Gatab a go-around from a landing isn’t always an option. Nor is it always possible to abort a take-off, and never after a certain point. Thus the reason I’m building a fence around the runway here (having it built, I should say), as mentioned in previous blogs. Anyway…I’m curious about the reaction in the villages to the last couple flights.

September 22, 2008 8:30 am
Published in: Uncategorized

I flew down to Loiyangalani a few days ago and spent the night. There’d been a cattle raid at Moite, a lace about 75-90 km north of Loiyangalani on the shore of Lake Turkana, by the Gabra (one of the tribes in north Kenya). One of the Turkana men had been shot, in both legs and through one testicle. The raid was Saturday night.

Monday about noon the merchant who’d been hired to go get the injured man got back to Loiyangalani (it’s the closest airtrip). I took him to Wamba hospital, and have since heard he’s doing well. Tough man…shot twice and survived 2 days with just minimal treatment.

So…what price a man? About 20,000 kenya shillings to get him from Moite to Loiyangalani, and another 23,000 for me to fly him to Wamba. That translates to a total of 43,000 shillings, or about $750.

The man’s father told Jim Teasdale, who arranged both the merchant and the flight, “I’m not wasting 20 goats (selling them) on someone who’s probably going to die anyway.”

Another part of the mind-set. A man’s status in the tribe is allabout how many animals he owns. The drunkard who no one likes, who never finished primary school, but who owns 500 cattle is listened to before the MP (member of Parliament) who went to Harvard and graduated with honors, but only owns a paltry 100 cattle. Along with status, animals are wealth. But beause of the tie in between status and wealth, the owners are VERY reluctant to ever sell the animals.

Not a mind-set I deal well with, but it does explain oher things, like why it’s so difficult to keep animals off the airstrip at Gatab. I don’t own any animals, so my status is rather low, comparatively. And they value the lives of the animals more than that of the herdboys, or me and my passengers on the airplane.

I know that sounds rather cynical, or bitter, but it is true. The question that remains, is how, as a Christian, does one respond?

The easy part of the answer is to keep working on keeping the animals off…finish the fence, enforce the no animals policy, etc. I have a duty to yself and my passengers, and the herdboys with their animals, to keep them safe while I operate the airplane. I’ll leave the harder part of the question to your imagination. I’m still working on it, for one thing.

September 21, 2008 4:14 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

When we went to Nairobi last time we flew…AIM Air needed the Gatab airplane during the week we were in Nairobi. The DC-3 was going from Nairobi to Sedar (near Kurungu, just south of us at Gatab) empty to pick up folks, so Jim Streit our general manager, offered to put some freight on the DC-3 for us. Seven flats of juice (84 liters) 20 liters of cooking oil, 10 kg canned dog food, 100 kg dry dog food, 20 two liter bottles of soda, and a few other things… Also by the time the DC-3 left Nairobi it had the Middletons and the Maples on board for Kurungu, and the Hamptons, to go to Kalacha, and all of their things. So from empty to 3 1/2 tons of people and cargo. Wow.

Nairobi was EXPENSIVE! We had alot of things to get, and when you’re shopping for nearly 3 months, the bills get largish. There were groceries, of course, plus 2 solar panels, and some tools, and some car parts and …. you get the idea.

Then it was time to go. Somehow we had to get all these groceries, plus me, Susan, Alex, Beth, and Samantha into the airplane….

That’s one of 3 such carts, that Alex is tugging into the hangar.

Samantha amused herself while we were loading by playing peek-a-book over a pile of groceries and cargo.

Then of course came, ‘Will it all fit?’ ‘Of course it will.’ It took some doing, but it did.