Thursday, July 31, 2008


The Nile River

Mud, mosquitoes, rain, swamps, heavy lifting, little sleep, and quick turn arounds…amazing! My time on my trip to Sudan the past two days was indeed amazing. Despite the list above, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
On Wednesday, I was able to go as third crew on the Samaritan’s Purse (SP) DC-3 flight throughout southern Sudan. Our trip began on Wednesday morning loaded up with cargo flying to Loki in northern Kenya. There we had to quickly unload all our cargo (several hundred kilos of supplies) and attempt a feat probably never before seen in missionary aviation history. We had to attempt to put two 25 ft. long boats, 5 outboard motors, and all the rigging and floorboards into the DC-3. The video I captures of two very large boats fitting into our plane is humorous to say the least (I hope to put it up once I can get a good internet signal). We got several pictures of the task which many AIM Air guys have requested to see. I thought the caption for them should be “The DC-3’s new floatation devises.” Once loaded to the gills with our cargo. There actually wasn’t enough room to get back to the cockpit. Crawling through the small space we left ourselves (and me with 3 opened bottles of coke) was an adventure in and of itself. We then had to take this cargo to Malakal, Sudan. Being able to see the Nile (actually the white Nile) right next to Malakal was a incredibly exciting. Yet we could not enjoy it for long, for we had to get back to Loki before dark and reload our cargo to be ready to go back to Sudan in the morning. We did without any problems. We stayed the night there in Loki at a very nice hotel that SP provided for me and all the crew (thanks Franklin!). Some other SP guys were there that are working in Sudan, and who we were going to fly back into Sudan the next day. It was really good to be able to talk to them and find out what they are doing in their church rebuilding project in southern Sudan.

The 5am wake up call the next morning was a little rough (partly due to the mosquitoes that nearly ate me the night before)…but I was excited to see more of Sudan. We headed out to our first stop in Kurmuk. On the way there we flew in Ethiopian airspace for a time and I got to see the Ethiopian highlands where the Blue Nile gets its origin. Yet flying over Sudan this time of year (rainy season) most of it looks just like a large swamp; our next stop didn’t help change my mind. I knew the place we just landed was muddy due to the plane sinking in some, but hopping out of the plane and sinking an inch or two in mud was more than I expected. We were refueling here so they began rolling out barrels of fuel. However, they were getting larger as they rolled. The mud was so thick and sticky, as they rolled the barrels in it there was about 3 inches of mud caked around the whole barrel. It was quite funny to watch. Our next stop was in Kauda just on the border…actually somewhat within northern Sudan. Here we dropped off several of the SP guys and picked up some more Sudanese passengers. Pieri was our last stop in Sudan for a quick fuel drop (AIM uses it as a fuel stockpile), before heading back to Loki. More passengers and cargo were loaded and unloaded. I got pretty good at moving cargo nets and straps down in place…as well as serving coffee and tea as any good flight attendant would do. Heading back to Nairobi, I was pretty dirty and tired…yet very happy to have seen and been in the place that I have been trying to get to since I’ve been here.We never stayed in a village or strip long enough for me to really meet anyone or see much of anything. Our schedule was so tight and we had much to do to get back in the air…I barely had time to take pictures. Yet I did see a lot, and have felt like I helped the flight crew out at the same time. Therefore, I can’t say too much about Sudan, but despite its downsides, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip there and can’t wait to go back maybe doing the same thing


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