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Jay | Susan | Alex | Beth | Samantha
December 29, 2008 4:11 am
Published in: Uncategorized

Maybe this should be part of the “succuesful bush pilot” post…. I flew up to Dukana Christmas eve to get a med-evac patient to take to Wamba.  The flight was easy…except for -finding- the silly runway at Dukana!  There are actually two runways there. One is just north of town right by the police post…and is unusable due to significant bushes and trees growing up in the middle of it.  Easy to see though.  The usable one is about 2 miles southeast of town, near a road junction, but it is totally blended into the surrounding area.  It took me three tries to find it and what I saw first was the windsock pole.  There’s no sock, just the pole.  Once I found that I was able to spot the outline of the runway.

The flight went smoothly, and the staff at Wamba was waiting for me when we arrived and they took the patient right in.

Now I just have to get a decent picture of the place into the directory so that the next guy who goes there doesn’t spend a half hour trying to find the place.

December 19, 2008 4:57 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

in the airplane.
I took two goats down to Nairobi yesterday for the guys in the hangar. Jose Reyes bought them for the hangar crew, I just transported them.  They were very popular.

Another first today…I was flying back to Gatab from Nairobi via Mugi, Maralal and Wamba.  At Mugi there were about a dozen zebra on the runway.

December 18, 2008 2:46 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

must be able to:

  1. Stuff 12 cubic feet of stufff into a 10 cubic foot space (baggage pod of 206, luggage bay of 210).
  2. Chop down sisal trees.
  3. Tell passengers, “No you can’t take those 200 kg of bags with you and all these people on one flight.” Politely.
  4. Be terrified and not let your passengers notice.
  5. Not be ill when the guy next to you spends the whole flight filling a sick-sac.
  6. Refuel an airplane with a bucket and a funnel.
  7. Dodge goats.
  8. Dodge camels.
  9. Sit in a seat designed (apparently) by Torquemada for 8 hours and still be able to work the rudder pedals.
  10. Calculate weight and balance, shift cargo, recalculate, and still get off on time.
  11. Unload 5 people, their bags, refuel the plane, load 5 people their bags, calcluate that weight and balance all in 30 minutes.
  12. Understand 3 radios, and the intercom simultaneously. One of the radios is in swahili.
  13. Give the passenger emergency briefing without scaring the passengers silly.
  14. Find a runway you’ve never been to based on a map that was out of date when it was printed 20 years ago.
  15. Pray.
  16. Share the gospel. (You have a captive audience!)
  17. Fix a land rover.
  18. Land with a flat tire.
  19. Change a flat tire while the goats and herd boys watch (and laugh).
  20. Be cheerful when you can’t get home that night becuase your passengers are over an hour late. And dinner is goat stew and 3 day old chapaties.
  21. Give a passenger briefing to a Moroni (a Samburu or Turkana warrior) who’s never been in a car, let alone an airplane before, and who doesn’t speak a word of English.
  22. Rearrange the day’s flying schedule over the HF radio when you can only make out every other word.
  23. Love the people you’re flying around, even when they completely trash the schedule for the day.
  24. Fold maps.
  25. Unfold maps.
  26. Tie down anything in the airplane, including goats.
December 8, 2008 4:18 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

No AIM Air doesn’t lose people’s luggage.  Actually, we find luggage people have lost on the road, which might just make us unique in the aviation world.

We (Susan and the kids and I) drove to Nairobi yesterday and today (yes, two days to go about 300 miles by road).  Yesterday, we were just north of Barsaloi, coming to a lugga (dry river) crossing and saw a black computer case in the road. Hmmm, most unusual.  So I stopped, got out, got it and we went on.  Meanwhile Susan looked inside to see if there were any ID so we could turn it into the police in Maralal, our stop for the night.  She found a folder of stuff with AIC Gatab Health Center on it.  What?!?!  And some tax paperwork with Employer:  Job Learamo (Job is the pastor at Gatab and is also the hospital administrator).  What again!

So we called Job as soon as we got in telephone coverage on the outskirts of Maralal.  Alex had lost it Friday night on his way from Nairobi to Gatab and was going with Jeff Heidorn to South Horr to make a police report.  So Job called Jeff so no police report, and we’ll bring suitcase with us to Gatab next week when we go back.

God must have blinded everyone to the bag in the road until we came through.  It sat in the road for a night and a day and a half a day…. anyway, we FIND luggage.

December 6, 2008 5:01 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

I was coming back from Olturot today when another airplane of ours comes on the frequency.  Oh, hi!  Not what I was expecting, I’d thought he’d already be halfway to Nairobi.

Turns out some of the missionaries here in the north had called Susan on the HF radio asking if I was available to fly a parent and child to Nairobi.  Susan said, ‘No because we’re driving to Nairobi in the morning,’ (this was at 3 in the afternoon, and it’s about a 2.5 hour trip to Nairobi.  So I could get there, but wouldn’t be able to get back until the next day.)  ‘But,’ she said, ‘there’s another airplane around.’  So Susan gets on the other radio and calls the Caravan.  The pilot starts doing slow circles at low power while things are worked out.

THe other missionaries are, ‘Oh.  Ok. We’ll talk to the family and see what they want to do.”  What?????!!!?  You called for a plane and there’s one that can do the trip for like half of what the full charter from me would be (they’d have to pay for the plane to return to Gatab, too, this other airplane was already going to Nairobi.)  And he’s in the air now ready to be there faster than I ever could.  Argh!!!!  This goes on for about 10 minutes.  The other pilot finally says, “I need to know in 5 minutes, or I won’t have fuel to make it to Nairobi (with proper reserve).”  Susan calls them again. I call the missionaries.  “They’re not back yet from talking to the family.”  “Ok, I’m bingo fuel.  See you.” says the other pilot.  Five minutes later the mission station comes on the radio and says, “Ok, we don’t want the plane. Thanks.”

Never mind.

December 6, 2008 4:52 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

I run a quasi-scheduled flight from Gatab to Nairobi and back.  Nominally I go down on the first and third Thursday of every month and come back the following day, to Nairobi  in the morning and back the following afternoon so that people have time to get things done around Nairobi.  It’s quasi-scheduled because we shift the flight around a day or two to accomodate requests from missionaries.

Two weeks ago the scheduled flight was empty…until the day before the flight.  I took off from Nairobi at 1725 kg (max for the airplane is 1729, 3800 lbs).  There were four people, plus 38 kg of medicines for Gatab, plus the other people’s cargo.  I just returned yesterday afternoon from the scheduled flight.  We were supposed to have 5 people on board, two moms and their infants, plus a lady from Gatab returning from being seen at Kijabe hospital.  I ended up with the one lady and her baby.  The other mom and baby went back to their station by other means.

I had told the family of the lady going from Kijabe that she needed to be at Wilson airport by noon.  Scheduled meeting time was 2pm, but knowing up-country african’s lack of sense of time, I said noon.   At 1:30pm I get a call from teh family saying she’s having trouble checking out of Kijabe, can you wait a bit?  I can wait a -little- I said…about 30 minutes.    We go back and forth and back and forth for a while.  Finally at 2:30 I say, “I am not able to stop the sun.”  Meaning I’ll run out of daylight.  “But she’s on her way!”  So I ask, “When did she leave Kijabe?”  I have to ask about 4 times before they say “2:25.”  “Sorry, can’t wait the two or more hours it will take you to get here.  We’ll have to make other arrangements.”

We are able to put her on an airplane coming to Kurungu next Friday and she’ll be able to get a ride from Kurungu with the Gatab soccer team.  So a bit of a delay but I think this will be no cost to the family.  It was very frustrating dealing with “please (whine) hold the airplane!”  though.  No…if I hold the airplane I stay the night and the other passenger is delayed and so on.

I was also asked to stop in Olturot on the way to Gatab and pick some people.  I pass them by and land 5 minutes before my daylight reserve (we have to be on the ground 15 minutes prior to sunset, and I landed 20 minutes before, so getting a bit close).

Today I went to Olturot.  A good thing I went empty!  They FILLED the airplane with people and stuff.  I had a bunch of groceries in the airplane for us yesterday, which would have meant alot of what they wanted to bring up would have had to have been left.