I flew with Dan Spooner and Brian Stoltzfus. We had a great time chatting during the longer legs of the journey.
The first leg was with taking a group of 25 short term missionaries up to Lodwar. I acted as the third crew and did the pre-flight passenger briefing and served the passengers during the hour and a half flight. (The night before, Cammy said, “I never thought I would be married to a flight attendant!”)
We then flew to Lokichogio where we picked up 15 drumps of Jet A-1 to stage for other flights in South Sudan. We took them into a place called Pieri. We then headed back to Loki to load another 15 drums and to spend the night.
Loki is a really interesting town, but mostly for bad reasons. It is VERY hot. Fortunately we arrived on what another pilot called the record low, it was about 75F. All the locals were “freezing.” But the town has the feeling of a old gold rush ghost town. In some ways it brings Bodie to mind. During the civil war in Sudan all the aid agencies came to Loki. I have been told the C-130s were lined up every morning at 6AM waiting for take off clearance from the tower. With the war ended in 2005 with the CPA, many of the agencies moved back into South Sudan. In fact, NGOs operating there were required to have an office in Juba. The foreign money mostly left Loki, leaving it with all kinds of infrastructure to deal with foreign nationals and very little of use to the Turkana people.
The next morning we headed back to Pieri to drop the drums. All the kids were out. There is a village elder who looks after the drums there (he gets the empties). Dan handed him some bottle flavored drinks and a couple of packets of cookies. The children all yelled when they saw it and ran toward him. They were a little mob around him until he started hitting them with his improvised stainless steel rungu. They bolted in all directions.
We went back to Loki to pick up 3000 kgs of relief supplies for Samaritan’s Purse. It was 300 bags, each contained a survival kit for a family that has been displaced. I did not see inside but could tell it had some kind of a pot and cooking utensils, a tarp and flour. I am not sure what else was in there. It pretty much filled up the plane. We crawled over low stacks to get to the cockpit. We stopped in Rumbek for fuel. The fuel guys were pretty happy with some bottle juice and cookies. Then we dropped the sacks in Malualkon not far from Abyei. On the way back we were back through Rumbek for fuel.
We were not far from Juba. This was Friday, the day before independence and so there was a lot of interesting radio chatter at the Juba airport with all the VIPs coming in for the big day. The UN even moved a bunch of their aircraft to Rumbek to get them out of the way.
We were back in Loki for the night and then on Saturday we washed the DC-3. If you look at the pictures, you can see that the Pieri strip was pretty wet so it slopped up the underside of the DC-3. I commented that it looked like we had parked next to Paul Bunyon’s blue ox and it had splatter the plane. It took us all quite a long time to wash it with buckets. It felt a little like a high school car wash. The heat of Loki made everyone more than a little happy to get wet.
The other guys stayed on to fly people out of Juba on Sunday, but I had to be back in Nairobi.