17 April 2006

Midnight medivac

One of our pilots has spent most of Easter Monday asleep.

He had a very pleasant Easter Friday getting out for a walk with a British couple who have come to help with aircraft maintenance for four months, and also with his son who had to take some pictures for a photo journ assignment.

Sat and Sun were fairly typical until 6:55 Sunday evening when we got a call with reports of an attack that had happened in Moz that required medical evacuation from the Mozambican coastal town of Inhambane to Johannesburg - now now. The frantic activity didn't really end until 09:00 the following morning when he landed back on the Mercy Air Farm again after a whole night of flying. To cut a long story short we had to arrange for flight permits, airports to open, customs, immigration and air traffic control guys to pitch in the middle of the night, for fuel - which is becoming rare during the day and a whole bunch of other incidental things that you usually need a week to sort out for a 'normal' flight. His wife didn't escape unscathed as she was also up most of the night flight following as he called every half hour to give a position report (co-ordinates that is, not whether he was vertical or horizontal)!.

Fortunately, the still moonlit night was about as good as it could be for this kind of flying which made taking off from our farm a bit easier, although we still had to get all the staff to position their cars at intervals down the strip so their headlights could provide illumination. Also landing on the runway in Inhambane took two attempts as the runway was only lit by a few burning paraffin lamps, some of which had blown out by the time we got there.

Obviously due to the nature of the incident and the fact that it all happened in the wee small hours we don't have any pictures, except for one of the paramedic sleeping on the stretcher on the return leg back to Nelspruit the following morning.

But what we really want to convey is thanks to those of you who pray for us regularly. Flying into Moz at night presents its own hazards and we don't always get chance to mail prayer requests round beforehand. We are however so appreciative for the prayer cover we do get that goes to ensure that we can serve safely in cases such as these.

Mercy Air team

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