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.

25 April 2018

Flying For Life - Eye Cataract Surgery

Mercy Air was once again privileged to fly an eye cataract surgery team on behalf of Mission Aviation Fellowship and Flying For Life to Thoyohandou in the Limpopo province of South Africa.

This is a recurring trip which we do about every two months and which provides a much needed service for people in the the rural Venda district.
An early morning start was required to collect the team
Some of the faces we knew from the last flight
The patients had been readied for our arrival but there were still a few checks and tests to be done before surgery.
Then the procedures took place, one after another for the whole morning and afternoon.



Waiting patiently
Another one complete
The sun set on out flight back to Johannesburg.
And after fueling there was the just the journey back to Nelspruit for the pilot.

Another very worth while excercise and again, the flight saved a three day round trip and allowed 16 people to receive live changing surgery.

Thank you.

Paul
For the Mercy Air team.

12 April 2018

Flying For Life - Dental Project


Mercy Air recently continued flying in support of Flying For life, this time taking a dental team up to a special needs centre in a very rural part of the Limpopo province in the north of South Africa.

Again, a very early start was required
Although the team was mainly dental Patrick, an artist also volunteered his time to work with the children.
Getting to know Patrick on the flight up
The team on landing at Tshikondeni

The centre was reached after a two hour flight and a 45 min drive through the drizzle and low cloud on muddy dirt roads in an old taxi. It still saved a three day round trip by road from Johannesburg though!
Parents bring their special needs children to the centre daily, while they are at work. Funding is being sought to upgrade the centre, which is barely large enough for the children they look after.

The dentists work through "Smile of Joy', an organisation founded to work with the underprivileged and special needs children.

First the children had a check-up to see what work needed to be done.

 Before the dentist saw them.
As the dentists were setting up, our resident artist Patrick started painting the outline sketch of the centre for the kids to 'colour in'.
 Meanwhile, in the dentists chair....
Eish, makes you shiver! But lasting relief is not far away


The waiting kids getting some colour on the wall
All the equipment was taken up in suitcases, which were then just opened out on a couple of chairs to work from.

A picture of the team with the kids and the wall painting at the end, perhaps giving some idea of the cramped conditions there was to work in.
We flew back at night to a local airport and collected the Kodiak the following day. This did allow for a photo-opp with our 310 showing the matching paint scheme.

Thank you.

Paul.

For the Mercy Air team.

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.


Paul.


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.

Paul.

For the Mercy Air team.