Thursday, 15 March 2012

All for One and One for All

A wave of water envelopes the windscreen.... Richard gives me the thumbs up through the clearing deluge, this ‘flood’ was a simple way of seeing off the morning dew to give a clear view for the days work. Checks completed, battery on, starter engaged, engine spools up. The propellor starts to turn in time to the beautiful musical whine of Pratt & Whitney’s ever popular opening number. Blades gain momentum, whirling dervish-like, soon blurring into an almost invisible wall  of aluminium; turbine going up the scale & soon to be in full voice, ready for adventures new.

Refuelling in Moroto in NE Uganda - a new refuelling depot
‘See you then this afternoon,’ an enquiry fielded has turned into an office visit, coffee offered, plans discussed, times and cost decided, tickets printed.
Luc scratches his head, manuals, scattered across the work top, the fault identified & failed part removed. Already stores have managed to find a spare. This component rarely fails so the nearest ‘easily available replacement’ is only 5000 miles away. Already it is heading out with Fed-Ex, to start its new life on the equator. Routine checks are completed, parts installed, aircraft checked, paperwork written up. The Chief Engineer double checks both, another essay is written in the technical log book and all signed and counter signed .

The cleaner's daughter is seriously ill and the PM (Programme manager) arranges for her to go to hospital before he goes up to the Civil Aviation Authority to meet with some officials to chat over some thoughts on airfield security; face to face visits are the only way to encourage trust and friendship.  E mails from MAF International in Ashford, the latest updates to the manuals, a request for information from a board member will all need to be answered this afternoon, as will a letter from a new supporter wondering if they can have a picture of his family. The IT manager sticks his head into the office to say that the server is down again due to a power outage but ‘all should be well soon,’ he advises with a grin.

Passengers and baggage are weighed, tickets checked, seat removed and freight tied down. Aircraft fueled, water put on board and passengers walked down to aircraft.
I collect my paperwork, half a rain forest neatly printed out. I carry the 90kg of boxes neatly labelled for a variety of destinations into the back of my Toyota. I note it has a new front tyre, glad ‘Little Richard,’ who does our vehicle maintenance was onto that when I got in last night, despite being a bit late. The weather in South Sudan, according to the satellite photo, does not look so good; had a chat with Achim, another pilot and we decide going to the west looks the best route, the base radio operator says he will call the destination once I am airborne to get an update.  
Route is checked and weight and balanced confirmed. The aircraft is inspected and oil and fuel double checked. Text arrives from friend, supporter, sister, team member,  'praying for you.' 

                            There is only one pilot to keep an aircraft flying but there are 40 others who get it off the ground. 

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1 comment:

  1. I guess I'm one of the many parts of your team that falls under the category 'praying for you and the work that MAF does'. Thank you to everyone at MAF for the outstanding work you all do.