|Here we are giving some soldiers a lift into town from the airstrip|
|Pre-dawn tow down to the main apron to file flight plans,|
pick up weather and find any passengers
The sky was a beautiful blue, the air temp slightly on the warm side of 42C, my aircraft's bright orange high viz paint scheme (standard issue for all aircraft based in Greenland, as it once was) contrasted beautifully with the silvery sand pouring along the airstrip in the fierce breeze, like staring into a hair dryer on full blast. Then on the edge of the sandy airstrip you could see it, a white wall tumbling down the runway, then the sandblast hit, one turned ones back into the sharp probing sand needles as the silver white cloud enveloped one, the silicon fog gave all and sundry a good shaking before it was gone in an angry cloud of dust, off to cause havoc to all who got in it's way. A couple more of it's friends gusted in but the patient that I was evacuating to N'Djamena after a car accident, arrived with an escort of soldiers and vehicles between 'visits', so I soon had him strapped into the stretcher and ready to go. As I taxied the aircraft to my departure point I kicked up my own dust wall but needed little of the sand covered airstrip as I headed into the turbulent heat seared air, climbing bouncingly over the desert dunes to head the short trip back to the Capitol. It is Harmattan season.
|This photo is the start of the wall of sand crossing the end of the airstrip and actually looks quite harmless!|
*Wikipedia on the Harmattan winds. In some countries in West Africa, the heavy amount of dust in the air can severely limit visibility and block the sun for several days,comparable to a heavy fog.It can even break the trunk of the pine trees, growing in that region, through their dryness. The effect caused by the dust and sand stirred by these winds is known as the Harmattan haze, which costs airlines millions of dollars in cancelled and diverted flights each year and risks public health by increasing meningitis cases.The interaction of the Harmattan with monsoon winds can cause tornadoes. Humidity drops to as low as 15 percent and can result in spontaneous nosebleeds for some. The wind can cause severe crop damage.