Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hypothermia in the Congo

I know, the title is an attention getter right? But it's true. Today, I nearly got hypothermia, here, in the Congo. Let me explain.

Here, it's hot. And humid. Like summer in Florida, hot and humid. Except being on the equator, the sun is more intense.

Also, for safety on the road, we need to keep our windows rolled up at all times. Otherwise people walking by could reach in and take whatever they wanted out of the car. Not good.

Because it's hot, and because we need to keep our windows rolled up, the car's air conditioner needs to work REALLY well. Otherwise, we get heat stroke, which is arguably worse than having things taken out of the car.

So, that brings us to today... kind of... When a person learns how to fly an airplane, pretty early on in their training they get to do what is called a "solo" flight, where the instructor gets out of the airplane, and the student pilot goes and does three takeoffs and landings by themselves. Then, once the student returns, the instructor cuts off the student's shirt tail, then decorates it with something memorable from that day.

The shirt tail from my first solo March 7th, 2002
Even though at MAF we are already accomplished pilots when we arrive in the field, we do something similar. But because clothing here can be so hard to find, we take a less destructive path. Once an already accomplished pilot takes his first flight in the field without an instructor, upon arrival back at home base, he (or she- but in my case, he) gets doused with water.
Maya, one of our national workers doing the honors.
So now, in a round-a-bout way, we return to today. After 5 years of actively pursuing becoming a missionary pilot with MAF, I took my first flight, here, with MAF, as a missionary pilot. And got doused afterwards...and then we took our passengers to where they were staying in Kinshasa...And en-route to their place of respite, there was a traffic jam. I was soaked, and I froze due to the great AC in the car... Proving once again that driving is so much more dangerous than flying.
Taxiing in to the parking area
In all seriousness, today was a big day for the team here in DRC, and for Team Spann (not just us, but all of you who have come along side of us too). We took off from our home base, Ndolo National Airport in Kinshasa, with one pastor headed to the pastoral training school in Kikongo. I asked him how long the drive would take, he said it takes him 22 hours. When I asked how much it cost to drive, he said 700 to 800 dollars! Not only is the airplane the quickest, but it is the most economical too!
 Then took a missionary and some cargo from Kikongo, to Vanga, where I picked up another passenger and some more cargo, and flew back to N'Dolo. All in all, 4 hours of flying ended up saving these guys over 3 days of travel time.
Me and one of my first passengers, Glen Chapman-Kikongo Missionary
Thanks to all of our mentors, family, and supporters. Look what we were able to do together!!

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on your first MAF Africa solo :-) Bet it feels great to finally be doing what you've been working so hard to achieve. Can't wait to join you in the field!