31 December 2018

Welcome to the Mercy Air blog . . . . . please scroll down for new posts

Let us introduce ourselves.

Mercy Air is a Christian, non-profit organisation based in South Africa. We operate two fixed wing aircraft (Cessna 310 and a Quest Kodiak) and a two Airbus Group AS350 helicopters.

We operate out of a 600m (2000 ft) airstrip near White River in the eastern part of South Africa.
This blog is a collection of news and trip updates designed to compliment the Mercy Air web page, Face Book group and other mailed newsletters. Click on a year and read from bottom to top and it should give you a good idea of what we do.

20 February 2018

Moz Medevac

After the big 16 hour day that was the cataract flight two days before (previous blog post), we were expecting a catch up in the office day on Monday.

That plan changed when the phone rang early on Monday morning with a request for a medevac out of Beira, Central Mozambique.

Brian, a mission doctor at a teaching hospital in Beira, said his daughter Eden had a suspected ruptured appendix and needed surgery in South Africa. Scheduled airlines couldn't take her and it was a two day drive on less than impressive roads. Could we help?

We've been flying to Mozambique for almost 30 years so we had the contacts to get the necessary permits. It didn't take too long before we were on our way. Even with the official paperwork, fueling and having to clear customs and immigration, we still managed to land in Beira by early afternoon.

On the descent we noticed quite a lot of flooding.
We met Brian and Eden and arranged for her transport out to the aircraft. We were on the ground less than an hour with the Moz paperwork and fueling done, before setting sail again back to South Africa.

Brian, being a doctor, took care of any medical needs Eden had during the flight.

There's always room for a pic of range and terrain information we have available to us during the flight.
500 miles later, Eden went straight to hospital for surgery after we landed in South Africa.
The following photos were taken in the hospital by Brian in the hospital.

And this one soon after Eden's discharge a few days later.
Thank you.


For the Mercy Air team.

18 February 2018

Sight Flight SA

Mercy Air recently resumed its association with MAF and Flying For Life.

MAF South Africa created Flying For Life in 2011 to meet the needs of isolated south Africans living in rural areas.

Today countless people in South Africa don’t just live in poverty but they are also cut off from the institutions that exist to address their needs, by difficult or dangerous terrain. It's not just that they are born into less-fortunate circumstances, but their location deprives them of the opportunity to change that.

Mercy Air and Flying for Life enable medical professionals, early childhood development trainers, social development specialists and other non-profit organisations to reach communities in need.

On this occasion we picked up a team of volunteer ophthalmologists in Johannesburg and flew them to a rural hospital in Thohoyandou in the Limpopo district of South Africa to perform cataract surgery on 18 patients. This saved them a 12 - 14 hour round trip drive over what would probably have been three days.

It still meant a very early start for us though to get to Jhb in the first place.
On landing on Thohoyandou a minibus was waiting to take us to the hospital 45 mins away.
On our arrival we 'trollied' all our equipment into the theater.
Out in the corridor the support staff prepped the patients...
... and did a few tests to work out what prescription implant lenses they needed.
In the theater each cataract procedure only took about 20-30 mins, but it made a lifetime of difference to each person involved.

Very interesting and quite a privilege to get this close to some life changing moments for many people.
We were even able to help a bit - under strict supervision!

A sobering sign on one of the noticeboards in the corridor. Please never let us need a black sticker for a very long time!
We left a little late in order to fit as many procedures in as possible.

The strip in Thohoyandou was tar but hasn't seen much regular use for a long time. The main activity it seems were the local kids who danced for us on the threshold as we prepared to take off. Health and safety - for who!
One of the guys who flew with us had his PPL and aspirations to use aviation in a mission context in the future. It was good to chat 'all things flying' on the way back.
We dropped the team off in Jhb just at sunset and therefore had to fly back to Nelspruit at night.
The bright lights of Jhb - soon gave way to the blackness of Mpumalanga
Thank you.


For the Mercy Air team.

29 November 2017

ASAM Mucombeze, Mosambique

Last week Mercy Air took a team up to the ASAM mission base just north of Chimoio, Mozambique. As we went in our Kodiak aircrat we were also able to offer a couple of seats to Hands@Work to enable some of their guys to visit their own projects.

The standard 'here's us on the way up' photo.
We do sometimes forget just how big Africa is at times - till we look out of the window on flights like these.

Landing at ASAM in the bush in the middle of almost nowhere.
Unpacking the aircraft. Its load carrying capacity is pretty impressive.
Sharp teeth, lethal sting, lightening reflexes and the appetite of a raging carnivore are all things the African Killer Snail does not have. Still flippin' big though.
There were various aspects to our visit but the main one was for some of our group to help with the twice yearly intensive pastor training that ASAM has been running for many years. There are only so many interesting 'action' photos one can take of a meeting so we will leave it at the introduction shot at the beginning of the course. Safe to say that Nigel and Erin delivered twelve talks during the week and were well received by the pastors, some who had travelled up to three days to attend.
Meanwhile, it was litchi harvest time! That meant for the rest of us picking and sorting about 10 tons of the fruit into various categories for sale. ASAM inherited a small litchi orchard when they moved onto the farm ten years ago and now harvest the fruit to raise some capital to fund their education and medical projects.
Some of us walked to the airstrip in the 'cool' of the morning one day and came upon this dung beetle with it's - well, dung I suppose! Fortunatley this wasn't the African Killer variety - just a normal one!
So, we were all happily beavering on with various jobs when one morning we got a call to say that a 70 year old Brazilian missionary, Josiah, had been taken ill and needed urgent transport to the capital Maputo for surgery. They knew ASAM had a small Cessna 182 and wondered if they could possibly help. As the patient needed to lie down and would also be accompanied by his wife and a translator this was obviously not an option.

But, it just so happened that we were there at just the right time in the Kodiak and had enough fuel to easily do the flight. When the patient arrived we had the aircraft ready and were able to get going almost straight away.
Loading Josiah at ASAM
Josiah holding his wife's hand during the flight.
We got to fly down the border of Zimbabwe on the day that political history was made.
Zimbabwe about 10 miles away.
Less than three hours later we were in the capital Maputo, a journey that would have taken up to three days by road.
Downtown Maputo and the harbour.
Cathy and I helping to unload Josiah on the apron at Maputo.

We were too late to fly back to ASAM the same day so we had to overnight in Maputo with a friend we hadn't seen since our Lesotho days - it was good to catch up.

The next day it was quite toasty on the ground in Maputo...
 ... but it soon cooled to a more manageable 10 deg C at 13000 ft.
While we are singing the praises of our Kodiak aircraft it might be worth mentioning its range. We tanked it up out of Maputo and this pic was taken just under an hour into the flight and shows its range and endurance - the dotted green circe with 45 mins fuel left and the solid green circle when it becomes a glider.
Back at ASAM, normal bush life continued. If you want internet, go and sit outside the office during the hours the generator is running.
Help feed the pets in the evening. I believe this is a Duiker - or something similar!
The week ended and we headed back in what ended up being rather inclement weather. This was the first we saw of the ground and the airport four miles away (about two minutes from landing) after over an hour of flying in a cloud.
Thank you.

Paul and Cathy, for the Mercy Air team.

17 November 2017

Marromeu, Mozambique

Our two weeks up in Marromeu was interesting as always. In the first week we assisted with the distribution of mosquito nets to 649 families in 8 of the more remote villages. This is part of an Africa-wide distribution jointly sponsored by World Vision, Food For The Hungry & Oxfam, to reduce the estimated half a million malaria deaths each year – 70% of which are children under the age of 5.

We flew several groups of students from YWAM primary healthcare school out to the delta for their practical learning alongside existing rural healthcare workers, flew medical teams to 6 villages for mobile clinics, did 4 medevacs, took the evangelism team out 4 days to 2 villages to continue the 'Firm foundations' Bible teaching program, education team to 3 villages, agriculture project team to 8 villages.t there are 50 of them compressed into each bale. These weighed 38kg eac
Rarely is gratitude expressed in this culture, but when questioned about the purpose of the nets, Dorca at least understood that, 'this was to protect her children from Mosquitoes and sickness.'
At each distribution village, a net was set up to show the locals how to do it and its purpose.
Some places were better organised than others, but here at Milambe, village leaders had hundreds of people all lined up in a relatively orderly process to get their mozzy nets.
One of the setbacks of the week was when Mae Chico – one of the education team, was hit by a motorcycle and suffered a fractured leg and a deep gash. There are no x-ray facilities at Marromeu, so I flew her up to Caia for x-ray then back to Marromeu for treatment. She was in a LOT of pain but all the hospital could offer her for relief was panadol!
There’s always plenty to do. On Saturday, I spent the day out at the Nensa YWAM base repairing the solar electric system for the preschool. By raiding components and batteries from other houses, I was able to get the system up and running for them.
We visited 8 villages at various stages of establishing an agrucultural project. Here Toni teaches the association at Mirantone how to rig up the pump. One of the difficulties in many places is the wells are very shallow as the sandy ground caves in easily. Trying to teach them how to reinforce the walls of these wells is becoming an important part of the project.
When everything is hitched up there’s plenty of excitement when the water starts to flow. NGO 'Wings like Eagles' sponsored some more pumps for these projects. Thanks!
One day I ended up with 3 medevacs in the heli at one time. Little Abel was really struggling to breath, so Leanna sent him and his mum out with me to Marromeu hospital. After the first day of IV antibiotics, he had already turned the corner to recovery. Sometimes these interventions seem SO simple, but without our presence there – they are unobtainable to the locals.

Thank you.
For the Mercy Air team.