Saturday, 16 July 2011

ROSS - A visit to the newest nation in the world.

The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” 

Don Williams, Jr. (American Novelist and Poet, b.1968)
Well I agree really BUT I love going somewhere new and so I kinda' like getting to the destination and if one is honest, there are times the journey can be a real pain!
Bursting out of the rain covered hills it was a delight to find a huge amphitheatre of space before me and it only took a minute or so before I spotted my destination, a thin brown strip amongst bush, huts, fields and houses. 
Banking hard over the end of the airstrip, I looked down below me and it was hard to believe that somebody really had built a concrete house, shop or whatever it was to become, right at the end of the airstrip. Not a problem landing but it sure shortens the strip for take-off. Figured a little rudder at the end of the take-off run would get one round the obstruction but the two lorries parked up nearby would have to move.

The undercarriage clunk clunked as it hammered over the rough surface, kicking up a cloud of dust & sand into the warm Sudanese air, one felt the straps pull firmly on ones shoulders, as one stomped on the brakes along with a 'burst' of reverse thrust. In seconds the aircraft had slowed to a walking pace in less than half the 800m available and I parked up in a relatively scrub free area off the runways side. People seemed to tumble out of the bush, with a real festive air, as everyone and I think I mean everyone, came out to see the machine that had newly arrived. Does seem there are only a couple of arrivals - on a busy month!
I love this photo of the busyness of a typical bush strip!
I was picking up a delightful young couple working with AIM (African Inland Mission) who were off to the coast for a well deserved 3rd Wedding Anniversary break, they had been in Ikotos learning the language and getting to know the people for some 18 months  - I wondered could I do that? I also had two chaps on board - wearing their chaplaincy T shirts - they had been training godly soldiers to become Chaplains/Pastors in the army in Nimule.  Amazingly Bosco one of the first such graduates from this programme just happened to turn up at the field - wearing his somewhat older much but equally much loved Chaplaincy T-shirt!
Well taking off ... with a few interesting obstructions at the end of the runway, I thought it best they moved the trucks, easy, ummm well it would have been if the engine had still been in it. Still a bit of maths and with my weight (aircrafts, not mine personally!) and a few knots of breeze down the runway, taking off towards the obstruction was still best and it should be no problem - with an obstacle clearance departure. So it was full power, rattle bump judder as we hurtled over the ruts and despite the heat the Caravan left planet earth as per the book, much to the delight of the several hundred spectators, goats and dogs lining the strip. Banking left we head low over the countryside before we commence our climb and 250nm south.
Evidence that I was there ... golly love this job.

1 comment:

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