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Jay | Susan | Alex | Beth | Samantha
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.

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