Enjoy these stunning views from some of our Africa programmes captured from the window of an MAF plane.
A landlocked nation at Africa's heart
The flight over Chad's Tibesti mountains to Bardai in done in two legs, from the capital N'Djamena. The first is a 3-hour flight over the seemingly empty Sahara desert to Faya where the plane is refueled. The second portion is 2 hours flying over the Tibesti mountains to Bardai, which includes the highest mountain in both Chad and the Sahara Desert at 3445 meters. MAF flights regularly bring medics and community development workers to the desert town to support a hospital and cultural development project.
Coming into land in Abeche, Eastern Chad which used to be one of the strongholds of the Arabic slave trade route. Today, the city is known today for its markets, mosques, church, square (the Place de l'Indépendance) and for its Sultan's palace. MAF flights bring medics like Dr James Appel to serve a hospital 20km outside of town in a health district that, until last year, had no hospital.
Water covers huge areas of the south of Chad during the wet season, which happens between May and October, and scenes like this are common. Chad, best known for the vast Sahara desert, which was actually named for its lake - the word 'Chad' means 'lake' in a local language. Today, Lake Chad is thought to be a fraction of its original size, having shrunk by 95% between 1963 and 1998. Many of the fishermen who depended on the lake during better years now struggle to make ends meet.
Island in the Indian Ocean
The island of Madagascar has approximately 3,000 miles of coastline, which is home to some of the richest marine life in the world. Warm crystalline seas are filled coral reef and inhabited by an abundance of colourful species including with reef sharks, leaf fish, clown fish, and snappers. Many of the 55 destinations reached by MAF planes hug the coastline, where several of Madagascar's largest towns are located.
Flying inland to the town of Mandritsara, the reality of life for people on the world's fourth-biggest island becomes obvious. The town's mission hospital is one of the best healthcare facilities in the region. Patients travel miles to make use of its services, often on foot. Two ladies attending a special fistula repair programme walked from a coastal town. ‘We walked from our village for two days and two nights and then on the third day, we came by motorbike. If we wouldn’t have come by motorbike, it would have taken four days,’ one of the patients explained.
An East African Wilderness
Lake Natron in the far north of Tanzania is a salt lake, rich in minerals and famous for a particularly iconic type of pink bird called a lesser flamingo. Even though it’s very big (35 miles long by 14 miles wide) the lake is very shallow, less than three metres deep in most places. The salty deposits around the fringe of the lake are formed by high levels of evaporation, caused by heat and salinity. MAF flights regularly fly to 10 Maasai villages in the area around Lake Natron.
MAF fly to dozens of locations bordering the vast Serengeti National Park, an area known for its wildlife and stunning scenery. The 5-seater Cessna 206 is perfect for taking small medical teams to rugged airstrips and, although its slower than the more powerful Cessna Caravan, that means more time to enjoy the views!
Land of the Nile
Wet season weather makes for unpredictable conditions, both in the air and on the ground in South Sudan. MAF planes are equipped with weather radar to help navigate around the storms, but airstrip conditions can be hazardous and harder to judge, particularly in areas where there is black cotton soil. The soil expands and becomes sticky when it rains - then hardens to forms a crust as it begins to dry out, before caving under the weight of landing aircraft. Planes often get stuck this way and the only way to free them is to dig!
Coming into land in the capital Juba where MAF's programme is based. The city is a hub for nearly 200 organisations who rely on MAF to get them safely to 57 destinations across a country which is widely considered to be one of the most dangerous places to be an aid worker.
The 'pearl' of Africa
Rivers were important landmarks for the early MAF pioneers, helping them navigate in the absence of today's advanced avionics. One of best known is the White Nile, which has its source in Lake Victoria, Uganda, and runs north into South Sudan through areas where there are many refugees. MAF flights are one way you can travel between the camps including Bidi Bidi camp and Adjumani refugee settlement, which are home to many of the regions 2 million refugees.
Every flight changes lives in isolated communities and increases the impact our partners can make in the communities they serve. It also provides the opportunity to look beyond the need and see the world from a different perspective. To enjoy God's creation and take time to stop and reflect.