03 December 2012

All Change

This is what two Mercy Air staff were expecting to be doing this last week end - except with more sweat and mud.
But a phone call at 16:00 on Friday afternoon put paid to all that. So instead the weekend ended up looking more like this...
Ten hours in the saddle in a day/night mountain bike race for Paul and Cathy was swapped for a similar amount of time in a plane at 10,000 ft. Azarja, who is one of Mercy Air's new pilots, also came along to help.

The story was that this lady way up in Mozambique had been getting progressivly more ill over the previous two weeks and had got to the stage where she needed to be bought out for some urgent medical attention. It would be unprofessional of us to say what her problem was but let's just say that we were advised to take a large bucket and a lid with us!

We didn't actually get the permit and the go-ahead till 21:00 on Friday evening so it was a bit of a rush to get ready for 05:30 the next morning. Saturday dawned dull and foggy so we were a little late taking off from the farm and had to do an instrument approach into the internatiuonal airport only 8 miles away. On the way one of the engines began running a bit too rough for our liking and so we left the plane there and drove back to get the other aircraft. To cut a long stoy short, we finally left 3 hours later that we had planned.

The weather in Moz was good and we flew over some interesting scenery near the coast on the way up to Beira.
After refueling we continued on to Mocuba...
...where the condition of the strip seems to have improved recently.
 We were greeted with the usual pomp and ceremony from the local kids...

...before taking off with the patient.
Her mission organisation had arranged for a doctor to come out to the plane at our refueling stop in Beira on the way back.
The weather was still bad in Nelspruit so our only other option was another 2h45 flight to the capital Maputo where the patient went to hospital and we ended up spending the night.
All that was left then was to return later the next day in a big cloud, landing in low vis and heavy drizzle.

So, over 1600 miles (2600 km) and 10 hours of flying but not one bike wheel turned in anger.
Mercy Air team

27 November 2012

Kodiak Training - USA

Mercy Air has recently taken delivery of a Kodiak aircraft. It was flown back from Germany to the USA for upgrades and is now in Michigan waiting for it's ferry flight to South Africa.

Ron and Barbara Wayner with the Mercy Air Kodiak
Being bigger than anything we currently operate as well as having a turbine engine, some specialised training was required. There are only 80 other Kodiaks worldwide and only three in Africa and so the best place to get training is near where they are made in the US. Two of Mercy Air's pilots, John and Paul, therefore recently spent some time at Spokane Turbine Centre in Spokane, Washington to learn some of the intracasies of the aircraft. This documents the trip from Paul's perspective.
It took almost two days to get there including a 16 hour flight from Jhb to Atlanta. Paul first went to Dayton, Ohio to visit some friends and get his head around the time difference.
It just so happens that not too far further on from where they live is the largest military aviation museam in the world - so he went two days running. They have lots of historical stuff including the B29 that dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki which ended the Pacific war.
They also have a hanger with a load of presidential planes as well as one filled with research and development aircraft including the XB70 Valkyrie which must be one of the most intimidating planes ever built...
When it's not cooped up in a hangar with lots of other X planes it looks something like this...
He also got to dress up as an astronaught.
Ground control to Major Paul.
At the end of the week he flew on to Spokane to start the training. The first week was all about the PT6 engine and how it works. There was a cutout engine and lots of bits and pieces to pass round.

This bit of the engine apparently goes round very fast and gets quite hot. If you break it it costs a lot of money.
There was also an engine outside on a test stand that they ran.
The following week was a mixture of cockpit Garmin G1000, aircraft systems and simulator training.
G1000 class
The sim was a bit box like from the outside...
but being 'full motion' was very realistic on the inside.
At the end of the week they drove up to Sandpoint, Idaho, where they make the plane to have a factory tour.
The last week was more G1000, systems and sim, and then a chance to join all the dots together and see if they could actually fly the thing.
Turns out they didn't do too bad...
Although it probably helps to have a slightly goofey instructor...
Even though the weather tried its best to intervene they finished off with some mountain flying in the hills of Idaho.
Quite a bit of mist lingered in the back country areas.
But very pretty.

Terrain Terrain. Pull up. Pull up.
This one place was a bit dogey to get into so we just flew round it a bit and took some pictures.
A few mug shots to finish...

There are a few bridges to cross before the Kodiak can be flown to Africa, not the least of which is raising the money for the ferry flight - $40,000!

Thank you.

The Mercy Air team

03 October 2012

Marromeu I Presume?

Recently Mercy Air flew an Education Ministry team to teach for a week at a YWAM DTS that was being run north of Marromeu on the banks of the Zambezi River in Mozambique.
The team taught the students how the ‘classroom in a box’ could be used to reach some of the communities that they will work with in the future.
At the end of the week MAF flew some guys down from N. Moz for the weekend to see and discuss the education work with a view to using it themselves in their ministry.
Accomodation was pretty standard for this type of trip. Nine days sleeping on someone's porch with their cat and pregnant dog!
Nensa, where WYAM are based, is in the bush about an hours drive from Marromeu (which itself is eight hours drive from the nearest town of any useful size). One hour’s drive further on is Chupunga where Mary Moffat is buried. She was Dr. Livingstone’s wife. Dr. Livingstone is best known as an explorer and having someone once greet him with the words ‘Dr. Livingstone I presume’. There is a lot more to him than that though. He was a very principled man and his three driving passions were Christianity, Commerce and Community. The first of these was what drew him to Africa in the first place and his passion for the Zambezi was the vision that it would eventually be used as a highway to transport the Gospel into southern Africa. This had only moderate success as he ended up spending more time discovering large lakes and categorising plants and animals than he did preaching.
I’m not trying to suggest we are taking over the baton – his legacy leaves far too large a baton to carry anyway, but by working in this area we do feel somewhat proud to be a very small link in continuing his dream albeit 150 years later.
Anyway, Mary is buried in Chapunga where there is now a Catholic church. 
Just down a small lane in an unkempt graveyard by the River Zambezi is her grave.
Cell phone reception in Moz is improving dramatically but there are still huge holes where reception is non existent. The YWAM base at Nensa would fall into this category but gets a ‘marginally unreachable’ tag due to a handy mound of dirt where the faintest of cell phone signal was discovered. It became so popular it was almost worn away so they built it up with a few bricks.
One day soon it will get a thatch roof to stop people getting frazzled by the sun as they frantically type sms’s and then hold their phones in the air to get reception.
Two of the girls who work with YWAM live in Marromeu and just happen to have a war relic in their back garden - as you do. Not sure but I think it's a Russian T38 tank.
It's become a bit of a feature but more specially with the kids who think it's the best climbing frame and swing ever.
Mercy Air team

25 July 2012

Hospital aid

Mercy Air recently flew a team from the UK who support a particular children's project at a hospital in Durban. They come out to work with another organisation near Nelspruit called Hands @ Work, but take the opportunity to fly to Durban with us because it saves them a two day round trip drive which they otherwise wouldn't have time to do.

Fueling in Nelspruit we parked by an old DC4.
We have done this trip for them three years in a row now.
Our pilot didn't visit the hospital with them but he and his wife spent some time with their son who lives there with his wife.
 So, no dramatic photos of the hospital visit - which apparently went very well, but a few of the flight instead.

 Just before boarding.
Looking forwards...
 ...and backwards. We always think it a compliment when our passengers sleep during the flight.

 The weather at 10000ft on the way was cloudy - but only beneath us.

Mercy Air team.