Pilot report: passengers, pyjamas and punctures

Pilot report: passengers, pyjamas and punctures

When flying in Africa, things don't always go to plan. So MAF pilot Andrew Parker discovered when our regular six-hour flight route to northern Kenya became somewhat longer

Report by MAF pilot Andrew Parker:

MAF pilot Andrew Parker and family

My first flight with passengers in Kenya turned out to be quite an adventure! The initial take-off had to be aborted due to a problem with the plane, so departure was delayed by about two hours.

By this time the weather in the north had deteriorated and there had been rain at Korr so we needed a low pass to check the strip condition as it was wet.

It was OK for landing but in the opposite direction to normal and with a pretty stiff crosswind.

After leaving one passenger in Korr we headed to Marsabit, but by this time the airstrip there was unusable, so we went to another one nearby which has the reputation of always being clear even if the weather is bad in Marsabit.

We went low level because it was not far and there was low cloud, but we couldn’t get in and had to divert back to Korr.

By that stage there was no chance of the weather clearing in time for us to get into Marsabit, and no way to get the extra fuel we now needed, so we had to overnight at the Catholic Mission in Korr, which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

I had not brought an overnight bag so was not very well prepared for this turn of events!

The following morning we were up early to get going to Marsabit for the fuel; we were loaded and ready to leave when we realised two of our passengers were missing.

After a half hour delay to find them, we were finally able to depart. When we landed in Marsabit the nose tyre punctured on the runway so we were stuck there until we gathered a group of people who helped us push the plane the few hundred meters to the exit and onto the taxiway.

There we could at least complete the refuelling, while we waited for another plane to come up from Nairobi with a couple of engineers, a spare wheel, and a tyre.

With the new nose wheel in place we eventually made it back to Wilson…only about 24 hours later than planned.

Houston, we have a problem

After serving in Tanzania for just over four years, Andrew and his family felt called to a new challenge, and so are in the process of moving to South Sudan.

In order to prepare for the change of programme, they have been living temporarily in Nairobi, while Andrew acquires the relevant licensing and training for his new role.

Find out more about Andrew and Liz