Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Update

As I've been reminded a few times recently, I am long overdue in updating here. But I'm tired and ready to crash into bed, so I'll make it brief. The last weeks have been quite busy in a lot of ways, even though the flying has been really slow and I haven't been working all that much. In the last week plus, I have done all of the following:

-Spent a few days in South Africa with my dad, who was coming through with work (the drive down took 18 hours when it should have taken 9 due to a lost radiator cap and much time spent waiting for the engine to cool down, averaging about 30 mph much of the time).
-Moved into a house where I'll be house-sitting for two weeks
-Studied extensively for the South African air-law exam
-Threw a birthday part for one of the other short-termers
-Had a Christmas party
-Went to a Christmas barbecue with a bunch of other people from Flying Mission and the area
-Went for a day fishing trip with two fellow Flying Mission volunteers in South Africa and fried up a good fresh bass.
-Spent a good amount of time cleaning up the Land Rover and trying to fix a leaking tire
-Took an airplane up to Maun and brought another one back
-Whiled away a good number of hours hanging out with all the great short-termers that are here (3 from Germany, 1 from Switzerland, 1 from England, and 2 from Canada)

So that's a little taste of my holiday weeks, with a lot of other little things thrown in there fore good measure. It was definitely a different Christmas, what with it being very hot, having no family around, not having the radio filled with lame christmas music and the streets filled with decorations, etc. But it's been a good time of connecting and spending time with people around here. So that's my life in a nutshell...more to come later, but for now I need some sleep.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Flood at Lillian's house

The other morning, as i was getting ready to leave the house for the airport, we got a call from somebody at the office telling us that Lillian's house was flooding and could we go over and see if they needed our help. Well, we could, so we did. It had rained heavily for a long time during the night, but the waters just started coming up a few hours after the rain was done, coming downriver from the south. What we found, though, was more than we expected. I've put up a few pictures below to give you an idea. Luckily the water didn't get into the main house, and only a few items from the servant's quarters were damaged. It could have been much worse.

Taking out the fridge. Christian and I came over to help, but by the time we got there they were basically finished getting the furniture and stuff out, so we stood around and took pictures.

The woods behind their house, where a little trickle normally flows (and even that only in the rainy season). Also the woods where the thieves seem to enjoy hiding. Turned into a raging river.

Playing in the yard. When the water went down, the neighbors discovered a few large snakes in their yard, which would make you think twice about letting your kid do this.

The back of the house.
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The view from the front gate. At this point the water had started to go down already. Luckily it never reached the main house, just the servants quarters, where Lesedi, a girl who I have gotten to know some from church, is living.
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Start placing bets...

On whether or not I'll ever move up to Maun, that is. As you might know, I've been planning to move up to the village of Maun in the north to start doing charter flights into the Okavango Delta for some time now. We've got a contract with a camp up there that will start in January, and originally it was planned that I would move around October or something like that. Well, things happen, and we're so tight on pilots that I will probably be staying in Gabs until the last two weeks of January or so. We only have a few flights scheduled in Maun in January, so we will just go up for the couple of days we need to be there for those flights, and then come back down. But February starts getting busy, so that's when I'll really need to be up there. The plan now is to take the last week or so of January as moving time and then be up and running in Maun by the beginning of February. For the first little while I will be doing most of my flying with another pilot in the company who is familiar with the delta and with operations up there to get my training in, and then they will let me loose. I'm pretty excited about the flying up there, but I'm also just as happy to stay here in Gaborone for a bit longer. I think once I head up to Maun I probably won't be coming back here for a while, if at all, so I'm actually glad to get some more time in the King Air and on the medical flights before I leave. Not to mention that it is nice to have time to spend with the Flying Mission people that I have gotten to know here before I go and live more or less on my own. And I will be around for Christmas, which will be nice. So anyway, that's the update from this part of the world. Keep in touch.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

All work and no play?

Mark had asked me last week if I had any good pictures of the King Air with a sunset or something like that to put on a Flying Mission Christmas card that he’s making. I didn’t really, but in talking about it, he mentioned that what he really wanted was some shots of the King Air in flight. I didn’t think much of it, but a few days later we had a day with a nice solid overcast layer (which is very rare around here) and Mark made a spur-of-the-moment decision that we would go up and take some pictures of the King Air, using a 210 as the photo plane. So we called Stefan, our resident photographer, to see if he could come. Stefan was giddy at the opportunity both to fly and to take air-to-air pictures, so he begged off of the work that was planned for him at the office and came out to the airport as quickly as he could. I flew the 210 as the photo plane (and the lead plane of the formation) and Dan flew the King Air. It was the first time that I had really done any formation flying, and it was a lot of fun. We first buzzed along under the clouds and took a few shots against the ground and the horizon, and then climbed up through the clouds and took some shots on top of the solid cloud layer in the sun. We wasted a lot of time trying to find each other after coming up through the clouds and then rejoining formation after a few of the maneuvers, I think mostly because both Dan and I were fairly inexperienced with formation flying. I didn’t help that the King Air is pretty slippery and was hard to get slowed down to match speeds after Dan caught up with us. We flew for a bit over an hour, and Stefan ended up with about 1,200 pictures. A few of those turned out pretty nicely, and I’ll post a few here for your viewing enjoyment as soon as I pilfer them from Stefan. It was a great experience, and it was fun to be able to get up and mess around a bit doing something out of the usual routine.