Mercy Air pilot, Azarja Groot, planned to fly to Lusaka via Livingstone on Saturday as on the Monday he would be able to catch a flight back to Mercy Air with Flying Mission in another aircraft, that just ‘happened’ to be coming to South Africa for maintenance.
Plans changed quickly on Saturday when the engine monitor began indicating a problem on a cylinder less than 30 minutes into the flight. Better to head back for a closer look.
Dan Gabler and his brother Steve, who had done much of the maintenance, were surprised to see 9Q-CMM, the 206, back so soon.
The remainder of the day they worked hard to resolve the indicated engine problem. Late Saturday evening, the aircraft was declared ‘ready to go’.
Sunday morning Azarja departed, once again. The first leg of the trip, Kruger to Livingstone would take about 5 hours. The scenery was beautiful.
All was going quite well until the alternator suddenly quit. With less than 3 and a half hours to Livingstone, Azarja, decided to continue. All non-essential electrical items were shut down, but over the next few hours the battery was slowly used up.
By the time Livingstone came into sight, the aircraft radio was no longer usable. The handheld radio, which normally just adds weight to the flight-bag could finally be put to some good use. A flap-less landing would also have to be performed. No worries, the runway was 3Km long!
On the ground in Livingstone Azarja quickly discovered the culprit. The terminal end of the field wire to the alternator had broken off. A few tools and some creative maintenance rectified the alternator problem, but now to find a jump-start.
Much to his surprise, Livingstone was able to provide a jump-start with a proper GPU (for a small fee of course).
After the usual paperwork and refueling, it was time to continue the flight to Chilongolo near Lusaka, the base of operations for Flying Mission in Zambia. Over the course of the next hour and 45 minutes of flying Azarja watched with satisfaction as the alternator recharged the battery.
On the ground, there was the warm welcome of a fellow mission pilot, a meal, some rest, and an early flight back to Mercy Air the following day.
9Q-CMM would be picked up later in the week, flown to Congo, to serve as a taxi, an ambulance, and an ambassador of God’s love.