Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A few reports from 12°6′N 15°2′E. Mentioned in dispatches 1.

Over the next couple of weeks I thought I would blogg a few notes that I jotted on my kneeboard somewhere within 500nm of 12°6′N 15°2′E the capitol of Chad N'djamena. 

It is hard to imagine that when I was here in April I was frying in the day time and simmering at night. One dreamt of cool breezes & cooling rains. 
Now the rainy season is upon us flash follows flash, like a mighty artillery barrage, truly spectacular, as the skies open fire followed by the thunderous explosions of battered clouds overhead, reverberating off the tin rooves and the MAF compound is awash in the deluge. Another  wave of flashes illuminate the compound, trees thrash in the winds, a stack of small branches break off crackling like pistol fire as they are hurled to the ground...
Parts of the country in the south are cut off as roads become impassable and MAF comes into it's own. 

Decided to skip the instrument approach that I was planning, as the storm whilst seemingly far off when it seemed a good idea, was moving in very fast. If I do not switch to a visual approach I will be extremely lucky to complete a full instrument procedure  before the rather solid looking lump of water  hits the airfield. So wisdom says beat the rain and get on the ground fast. The storm is steaming relentlessly onward like a huge battlecruiser, N'djamena bound. The curtain of water is at first transparent, very quickly builds up fold on fold of white, grey, greyer then blackly impenetrable, a solid wall of water.

Pushing, shoving, pulling, squishing the freight is finally  in, it  is hot work in what is quite a humid day. I seem to be getting quite adept at fitting a quart into a pint pot, still I guess as I have flown with MAF now for 20 years that is to be expected. Only 8 passengers  today but I am saving them perhaps a 10-14 day road trip if they were to go by public transport. Mother & 7 children weighing in at a somewhat feather like 250kg, which is exactly the same weight as the freight, and whilst I could have put 100kg more on board the only place left for anything is on my lap! Every cubic inch is taken up, as there seems to be rather a lot of mattresses board, as well as some essential supplies for the work up north, so we are  as they say well and truly full up to the gunnels.
Heading for Bardi (kind of near Aozou on the map above) with the family of one of Mark's co-worker's. Mark had taken only 7 days 6 nights to drive the 1700km steaming across the desert to hit reach their destination, a mere 5hours for me, though a leg stretch and refuelling at Faya Largeau will mean we'll make it for a late lunch. Think he'll be happy, along with his team, to catch the flight back.

Sitting on the sand at Faya, resting in the sun, under azure skies, rainy season? Seemingly little chance here a cloudless sky, a golden carpet lay, before me  rocky outcrops stand aloof, guardians of the silence, broken only by the abrasive whisper of sand upon sand, as it swirls around rocky outcrops like children playing chase, barely leaving their footprints in the sand.  

The race is on! I am cleared for start up by the Tower but a couple of French Military Mirages have already gained the upper hand by dashing onto the runway ahead of me and before you know it, they  crisp the air into submission as they launch, tail pipes aglow as they roar skward. Alas that delay makes it to late for me, the clouds sliding in rapidly, the blue skies vanish, the cloud ceiling comes lower and lower and the bright morning turns to gloom, the wind picks up knot by knot, second by second. The skies have darkened as the jets crackle into the distance making their noisy and rapid escape, the race is lost and the door of escape has well and truly shut for me, as the first drops bounce on the faded apron. Control locks go into place, extra chocks under the wheels, hatches battened down,  sunglasses back in their case. My wife and a Dr, passengers for the two hour flight to Am Timan in the south East along with a mound of freight are boarded and tied down respectively! The storm hits with total enthusiam... 
Am Timan is a  small town is already pretty cut off by the rains, one of the quirks is the stack of huge 'mines' guarded in an out building just where we park!the aircraft. We wait it out for 90 minutes passengers lulled gently to sleep by the rocking slush of rain on tarmac, the rainy season in a dry and desert land!  

No comments:

Post a Comment