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Jay | Susan | Alex | Beth | Samantha
July 7, 2010 9:20 am
Published in: Flying

The following was released by the IS director. I’ll add a little after he gets done.

Dear AIM coworkers,

Midmorning Monday July 5, the King Air operated by AIM AIR incurred damage during landing on an airstrip in southern Sudan. There were no injuries. The aircraft is badly damaged but repairable. The damage includes the left landing gear, engine, and propeller.

Immediately a recovery team was assembled and another aircraft was prepared and launched from Nairobi with the recovery team on board. Thankfully, a UN team arrived on scene to provide security and lights, allowing the team to work into the night. Tuesday morning (July 6) the recovery team was able to move the King Air off the runway to the parking area of the airstrip.

Another AIM AIR aircraft completed the King Air’s scheduled flight for the passengers.

The recovery team’s initial assessment has identified parts of the aircraft that can be replaced. It is estimated that it will be some time before these parts can be obtained and the aircraft brought to a condition where it can be ferried to Nairobi to undergo further repair.

We are working with Samaritan’s Purse staff on location to ensure security during the process while the airplane is in Sudan.

We ask that you join us in praying, praising God for the safety of everyone on board, and asking for His wisdom and guidance during the recovery and repair process, and thanking everyone who assisted in the last two days.

-Colin Earnshaw

I flew a Caravan up to Sudan to take a stack of tools and the rest of the recovery team to get the King Air off the side of the runway and out of the swamp.  Let me emphasize again, no one was hurt, not even bruised.  We dug and we jacked and we shored up and jacked some more, and eventually recovered the aircraft from the side of the runway to the parking area, and began the process of truly recovering it back into service.

A bit more detail…after landing the pilot struck a washout with the left main landing gear while trying to avoid a large puddle in the middle of the runway.  Puddles can often hide ruts or holes that make the airplane difficult to control or cause damage.  The runway in question, as you can see in the first picture, sits a couple of feet above surrounding swamp.  The rains have begun in Sudan and run off has caused a number of washouts along the edges of the runway.

The UN helped with providing some security initially, and they also provided us a portable light stand mounted on a generator to let us keep working after dark.  We arrived on scene about 6pm and by 8pm had the airplane back on its wheels.  We went off to get some rest and returned the next morning a bit before 7am.  By 8 the airplane was on the runway, and by 8:15 am the airplane was safely parked in the airstrip parking area.  I have to add, i have NEVER seen so many insects in my life. The portable flood lights attracted literally millions on millions of bugs.  You could see them swarming the lights and the ground around the light trailer was literally crawling.  We made, as you can no doubt guess, liberal use of bug repellent.

Please pray that the effort will go smoothly. The aircraft is a long long way from Nairobi, and doing repairs there to get the aircraft to Wilson will be difficult due to the climate.  Please pray also for security so that the plane is not vandalized, and most of all please pray for the pilot.  To say he feels terrible is like saying hurricanes are a bit windy.  Please pray also for the two members of the recovery team that stayed with the aircraft to continue prepping it.  They also have a project of fixing the local missionaries’ truck today while they wait for the DC-3 to come through and pick them and various parts up.  We drove back to the town in the dark, with two of us holding flashlights out the windows in lieu of headlights.  The truck’s alternator had failed and we had some adventures getting to the guest house and then getting the truck started in the morning to get us back to the airstrip.

Please pray for the rest of AIM Air as we work through what happened.

June 16, 2010 9:40 am
Published in: Flying

But not quite the way I planned to spend Saturday.  The plan was that I’d fly to Wamba, pick some doctors up who’d been there on a short term trip and bring them back to Nairobi.  So I show up at the hangar and start getting ready, when Jim Streit calls.  Jim, Mike DeLorenzo, Jerry Hurd, and a couple other folks had gone down to Magadi (about 40 miles southwest of Nairobi) to do some flying.  When they got down there and started setting up, they discovered that their airplane had sprung a leak!  There was oil all over it.  So I delayed a while until Jose Reyes, our lead turbine mechanic got in.  He started gathering parts and tools and I flew off to Wamba to pick the doctors. On my return I took Jose, along with Randy Gottfried and a bunch of oil, tools and parts to Magadi.

There, we found our lost sheep, waiting for rescue.  So, while Jose and Randy tore into the repair, the others took the plane I’d come down in and started with the flying they’d planned. 

I helped here and there with things, and around 3pm we finally loaded up to fly home.  The one plane still wasn’t fully fixed but it was OK for the hop home (less than 20 minutes, with lots of alternates).  I took all but the crew for the other plane and followed them back to Wilson.  Not what I had planned, but a fun day nonetheless.

June 8, 2010 9:21 am
Published in: Flying,Ground

Is my new nickname from the Orma people in Daba. I was there this weekend with the Scheenstras. Roger and Sue have been there in Daba for about 20 years now, working with the Orma, and I brought three of their children to visit during the RVA midterm break. I spent the weekend overhauling the brakes on his old (1977) Toyota Landcruiser. Then yesterday I brought all five of them to Nairobi.

Oh, molu, means “bald.” Roger assures me it’s a very honorable name among the Orma. However the lady who gave it to me was laughing…..

May 8, 2010 1:55 pm
Published in: Flying

On the 26th, Jim Streit and I delivered a generator to Werkok. Partners in Compassionate Care (PCC, website www.pccsudan.org) asked AIM Air to move a generator to Werkok for the hospital they run there.  The generator was 550 kg (1200 lbs), and with the top covers and hoist ring removed was 46.5″ tall.  That last is significant because the door on the Caravan is 48″ tall.  It took us about 2 hours at Wilson airport in Nairobi to load the thing, using a forklift and four helpers.  Then we flew to Lokichogio (2.5 hours) and then Werkok (another 2 hours).

Unloading started with unstrapping the thing, which took considerable crawling around in the airplane:

Then came getting it out without dropping it.  Fortunately PCC has a front end loader with a very good driver there in Werkok.  They also had a hoist frame that they use for drilling wells.  So we took three of the big ratchet straps we use to tie things down (each is good for about 15000 lbs rated load, so three was probably overkill, but we were worried about the thing slipping) and used to the front end loader and alot of grunt work to slide the generator partly out of the airplane.  Next was to re-attach the hoisting point to the generator frame and then chain the generator to the well hoist frame.  Then we repositioned the bucket, and ran a chain from the hoist point on the generator to the hook on the bucket, and slowly lifted the whole thing out of the plane, a half inch at a time.  And now the hospital in Werkok has power.  We also brought as passengers three men from Nairobi (actually they’re from the US, but we carried them from Nairobi) who’s main job in the next couple days was to hook up the generator.

All that done, Jim and I hopped back in the airplane and flew home.  A good day’s work.

February 17, 2010 5:09 am
Published in: Flying

A couple firsts the other day for me.  I did my first ICAA medevac.  ICAA is intensive care air ambulance.  They charter planes, and provide medical staff and equipment to provide medical transport.  I’ve done medevacs before, of course, but this is the first time with these folks. They provide a doctor and a nurse as crew for the flight.  We flew the Caravan over to Kigali to pick up a man who’d had a heart attack and bring him and his wife and son to Nairobi.  We launched out of Nairobi about 2:30 in the afternoon.  It’s about a 3 hour flight each way, and we had a couple hours wait in Kigali while the doctor and nurse fetched the patient from the hospital there.  We took off from Kigali about 7:55 and landed in Nairobi at Jomo Kenyatta airport at nearly 11pm.  That was my first experience flying at night in Africa.  It’s very dark out there.

What was really bizarre was that Lake Victoria was better lit than the land.  The fishermen put out strings of lanterns to attract the fish.  So Lake Victoria was all lit up, but the surrounding land showed just a very few scattered lights.

The flights were uneventful, otherwise.

February 17, 2010 5:03 am
Published in: Flying

Last week on Thursday I flew up to Loki on the DC-3, and then with Jim Streit, flew the Caravan to Juba to pick up several people, and then on to Chotbura.

The stop in Juba was MUCH smoother than the previous one. This time my passengers were SPLA officers, a Colonel, a Captain, and a Lieutenant. No troubles with paperwork this time.  That’s Col Deng there in the picture.

At Chotbura we let them all out, along with two passengers from Servant’s Heart. SH runs a clinic and a school in Chotbura and in nearby Daga Post. They’d had rumors of a couple of totally isolated and unreached villages north of Daga, and had gotten satellite photos and verified that the villages were there. Some work with mapping software and they worked out a route from Chotbura through a dry river bed to the area of the villages. Because of other rumors that the Orma (a tribe that’s mostly in nearby Ethiopia) they’d contacted the SPLA and asked for help. Thus my passengers from Juba. Col Deng and his men were along to provide security and to observe.

The DC-3 dropped off all their supplies…four motorbikes (they already had a couple in Chotbura) fuel, and other things, and we flew away. Servant’s Heart is off somewhere in south Sudan now, taking the gospel to people who’ve not had a chance to ever hear it before. Very very exciting. It was a privilege to be even a small part of that undertaking.