Special delivery

Special delivery

MAF Pilot Justin Honaker discovers he needs to be ready for anything when helping others in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho

Justin and AManda Honaker - MAFHave you heard of the Leatherman tools? They are a small, multi-function tool that can do pretty much anything.

The company has a slogan: ‘Leatherman. Now you’re ready.’ Around the hangar we joke about it, as if a multi-tool would suddenly make you ‘ready’.

When I get a new one, the guys tease me a bit as I leave for my flight: ‘At least you’re ready now!’

Mamolise and her mother Matseliso are waiting at the airstrip. Mamolise has been in labour for two days. However the nurse assures me that she is fit to fly the short 15 minutes to the district hospital, and then hands some surgical gloves to the backseat passenger M’e’ Mathabo, a research scientist.

I strap Mamolise in to a new harness stretcher, and then depart for the district hospital in Manamaneng, Lesotho. But things in the back start getting pretty frantic.

M’e’ Mathabo signals to me that she wants to take off Mamolise’s harness. Understandable, I am somewhat hesitant, but agree to remove it – even though it took five minutes to get it on! M’e’ Mathabo leans forward, expectantly, apparently ready when suddenly a tiny head becomes visible.

‘Doesn’t this thing go any faster?’ I ask myself! Then I sees M’e’ Mathabo sitting upright, holding a new born baby in her arms! There are smiles all around.

Thankfully, the ambulance is waiting when we arrive. Before they go, Matseliso wants to cut the umbilical cord. She spots my new Leatherman tool on my hip.

It’s the second day I’ve had it but, with no other instrument and no apparent concern on the part of the ambulance staff, I relinquish the unused multi-tool and struggle for the Sesotho words for ‘Go with God’! The healthy boy is whisked into the ambulance, the doors close and they are gone.

Although I can’t really say I was ‘ready’ for a baby being born on my plane, I’m delighted to be part of an organisation that is ‘ready’ to respond to medical emergencies 365 days a year. I’m also thankful for having M’e’ Mathabo along to deliver the baby in the backseat of my plane!

MAF aircraft at Manamaneng, Lesotho