Despite reduced flying in South Sudan, MAF Pilot Daniel Gill, clocks up 2,000 hours

Published: 21 Jul 2020

MAF Pilot, Daniel Gill, marking his milestone with a plaque in the plane

Although MAF South Sudan is flying at lower capacity due to government restrictions, Daniel Gill has still managed to reach this incredible milestone. Daniel looks back on what he has learnt during the pandemic…

‘Even with lower flying hours, I’m glad to reach this small milestone of passing 2,000 flying hours. It doesn't change anything, I still have so much to learn, practice and improve upon. However, it’s fun to celebrate in a small way and think back on the hours I've flown before.

‘Grateful’ to still be able to fly

Life is still a bit strange - what's next is uncertain and a reassessing of values has been forced on everyone.

Being in Juba since January has felt like being on a merry-go-round in the fog. You can see a little bit, but not much. There's movement, but you're not really going anywhere. 

I'm very grateful for still being able to fly through the pandemic and that I have a job, which means I can still help the people of South Sudan in their time of need. This country operates largely on aid, so when there are restrictions on movement and supplies, people suffer.

Supplies including bananas and pineapples in the back of a truck

‘Procedures during a pandemic have become endless’

MAF in South Sudan has been able to keep flying at a much lower capacity. Initially, we started with just flying cargo and supplies for various field staff. Gradually, we’ve been able to incorporate limited passenger flying with the new regulations in place.

Aviation procedures during a pandemic, have become endless. We have a whole new checklist for cleaning, passenger screening and more. The benefit is knowing that we can continue to fly passengers in a clean, safe environment.

Daniel and passenger wearing masks in the plane

A time to learn and grow

When our current operations manager got stuck in Uganda at the start of lockdown, all remaining pilots left in the country (four of us), were put on a roster to fill in for a month at a time.

Operations management isn’t exactly something I would put my hand up for, so I took up the role with trepidation. I came away however, having enjoyed seeing the operation from a management perspective, learning more about that role and developing myself.

Learning and seeing new things is something I always challenge myself with, but for now, I'm very happy sticking to flying! 

About a month before I passed this milestone, I got my plane stuck in some ‘black-cotton’ soil in Thaker. After some help digging the plane out for half an hour, I got on my way again much sweatier and more careful of dark spots in the muddy ground!

'I've been grateful to rest in God's provision and, even though the world is not normal, God's love and goodness are more than we can ever imagine’ 

MAF Pilot, Daniel Gill

A renewed relationship with God

Like much of the world, I’m not going out or seeing friends as much. These changes are of course hard. I’m a relational person, so I miss being with people. However, it has really been a time for my relationship with God. I have been consistently reminded throughout about forming an intimate prayer life and for that, I am grateful. 

It seems that everything I'm reading or listening to, God is saying, "pray and come to me, there you will find rest." 

Reflecting on my milestone and past experiences - first solo flight, new aircraft, different runways, passengers I've flown, people I’ve served and challenges I’ve overcome - through it all, God's presence, protection and desire for His love for all to be known, has never changed.

I've been grateful to rest in God's provision and, even though the world is not normal, God's love and goodness are more than we can ever imagine.’ 

Women from Padea collecting supplies