Sunday, 17 January 2016

Early morning's.....

Following a lovely break over Christmas and New Year it was off to Liberia again for me (Mark) to carry out a scheduled inspection on the MAF aircraft based there, 5X-OPE. 

At 01.30....yes that's in, in the alarm clock goes off.  I quickly silence it and pause for a minute to listen and see if anyone else in the house stirs.  All is quiet, so I got away with it.  Forty five minutes later I am in the taxi on the way to the airport.  My route to Liberia should go like this:  Entebbe-Nairobi-Accra-Monrovia.  My return will go Monrovia-Freetown-Accra-Nairobi-Entebbe.  However once on board in Nairobi it is announced that we will also stop in Douala, Cameroon so that adds 1.30 hours on an already long day.
Despite the extended travel I eventually arrive safely at Roberts International Airport in Liberia and am met by Arjan, one of the pilots already based there.  An hour and a bit later we are at the ELWA compound at Arjan and Aartje's house drinking coffee.  The plan is to keep awake for the rest of the afternoon and get an early night ready for the next day.  I sleep at the house next door - hosted by Emil and Margrit.  Emil is Country Director/Pilot and Margrit is Finance Manager (and a lot more as I see during my brief stay!)

At 05.00....yes that's in, in the alarm clock goes off.  No need to quickly silence it as the whole house needs to get up.  If we leave the house at 6am we get to the airport around 6.25.  If we left at 07.00 we get there somewhere between 08.30 and 09.00.  We have a long day ahead so early it is!

Me removing the spinner to give access to inspect the propeller.

We all get stuck right into the inspection with Emil doing some servicing items on the engine, Arjan checking the first aid and survival kits and me carrying out the visual inspection items .  A couple of hours later a couple of other guys with previous experience on the Caravan help by checking the wheels and brakes.

Sometime during the morning I check my watch thinking it feels like coffee time but am dismayed to see it is only just after 9 - its that early morning messing with my head!  Still, by the time 10.30 rolls around and we do stop for a coffee it feels like we have achieved so much!
We wander over a couple of hangars down and pop in to the Samaritan Purse hangar to say hi and invite ourselves in for coffee.  The timing is perfect as they have a visitor from the states that has brought new stock of good quality filter coffee.  After this and having borrowed a couple of pieces of equipment from them we head back to the MAF hangar and continue.
Emil checking the brakes.

We continue working through the day, with a stop for lunch at a restaurant close by, and get the inspection completed and even some snags (defects) repaired that were outstanding from the last inspection.
Its then getting late in the day and around 5 we carry out the post inspection run to check out the various systems and do a performance run to check the health of the engine.  All is well except for the idle speed of the engine being slightly low which I adjust.

Replacing a static wick on the rudder.  These dissipate
static electricity which builds up on the airframe as the
plane fly's through the air.

We head back to ELWA and enjoy a walk down the beach and then have a late dinner.

I do the papers for the inspection in the evening (they say the plane isn't ready to fly until the weight of the papers is equal to the weight of the aircraft......) but we plan to head back early again to work off another snag and a couple of final checks.

Guess what? 05.00....yes that's in, in the alarm clock goes off.  We head back to the airport and finish the work on the plane and the final papers are done. 

We then head to MAF office, a few minutes walk away and Emil and I discuss some issues and make some plans for our impending arrival and ordering stocks of spare parts and equipment for the hangar.
We arrive back at ELWA around 11.30 and head to the other side of the compound so I can take another look at the house that we will be living in when we arrive.  I take some pictures to show Sarah and kids what it looks like with furniture in.
Its then back to Emil and Margrits house for some final packing and we head for Roberts around 12.30 for my flight back to Uganda.
Journey back is good although not much sleep is had, due to all the stops.  I arrive back in Entebbe at 9am and then its home to see the family!

At 01.30....yes that's in, in the morning....I sleep.   At 05.00....yes that's in, in the morning....I sleep..... ahhhhh finally a much needed lay in.

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