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Jay | Susan | Alex | Beth | Samantha
June 15, 2014 1:46 pm
Published in: Flying

We carry all sorts of strange things in the airplanes.  The last three days in South Sudan it was 50kg sacks of sugar, salt, 10kg bales of tea and 30kg bales of flip-flops.  That’s a LOT of flip-flops.  They’re called pata-pata here.  Mike and I flew from Arua on Thursday to Juba where we picked the first of four such loads we were taking from Juba to Jaibor, way up north of Juba.

We loaded the plane and checked the weight and balance, all good, so we got in and flew. I’m in the right seat these days, helping Mike with his 20140530_113230Caravan checkout, so I watched while he ran checklists and prepared the airplane to fly.  The flight was straightforward, with no issues, and we spent the two hours talking about airplane systems, standard operating procedures, emergency procedures, and the like.  Unloading at Jaibor was quick…put the tailstand on the plane, open the cargo door, unstrap the cargo net, and then haul the sacks and boxes to the cargo door.  The villagers unloaded from there, eager to get the supplies.

Back to Juba for another load, and again and again.  Juba is a very busy airport, lots of people trying to talk to the one controller in the tower.  It can be very hard to get a word in.  The controller scolded us, “You call 50 miles out, not so close in (it was 20 miles when we finally got through to him).  “We’ve been calling since 50 miles.  This is the first time you have answered,” I say back.  While we were fueling, a Russian IL-76 landed.  Still nose high his engines ran up to max, a deafening shriek from the four old turbojets.  I thought he was going around, then I saw the thrust reversers deployed.  Stopping.  He still rolled to the end of the runway and had to turn around and taxi  b20140614_095408ack.

The first three trips to Jaibor went very well. The fourth, Saturday morning, was a bit in question. We had word that they’d had rain the night before, about 30 minutes of heavy rain.  ‘The runway is wet but landable’ we were told. The soil in Jaibor is  mix of black cotton mud and sand.  Very sticky, very slick.  On arrival we did a couple of passes over the runway. There was still standing water but it looked doable.  We landed, and sprayed the plane liberally with mud.  As we slowed Mike added power to keep us rolling in the muck, and the torque from the engine made the plane twist, and we skated sideways in the mud.  Finally, some firm ground.  We straightened out, and taxiied to the parking area and shut down.  I unloaded while Mike washed the windshield.

Back to Juba, for fuel, then on to Nairobi to bring the plane for inspection. We’d run it out of hours, about 20 hours in 3 days.

 

PS:

We’re still heading back to the US in July.  And we still are working on the budget for the trip.  If you’d care to donate to our travel you can go to the AIM International’s website. Their page on giving is http://aimint.org/usa/give  Or more directly, the link for online giving is https://www.egsnetwork.com/gift2/?giftid=BA2CB0A93B314EC  If you go there click on the ‘Search for Designations’ tab and then put Mundy in the search box.  Choose the home assignment designation and continue on from there.  Thank you!