As you know very well by now it is extremely hazardous driving on Mozambican roads.  If the potholes won’t leave you out and dry along the roadside the chance of hitting a goat or a pig or three is just as good.  Bottom line:  It is  very unsafe.  That is why everybody around here quote airline figures – ‘very safe for the amount of miles they travel up above’, they keep on saying.  And I agree …. if it’s a 747 Boing – no problem.

BUT flying in a small aircraft is another issue altogether.  I mean … on a 747 at 40 000 feet travelling at 990 km/h sipping on a cup of hot chocolate with a cream cheese biscuit while watching a movie of your choice … sounds … well …. in control!  If I want to get up to go to the … well you know what …. even that is possible.  Even though I have to squeeze myself into that private space …. I can even get cream for my hands while I watch my ‘happy’ face in the mirror.  All under control – even when you flush and you hope your not sucked in and spit out into oblivion and land somewhere in an ice cube!  All good, yeah?

So when I had the chance to fly to Marromeu for an education outreach to the forgotten people of the Delta, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands (although they were shaking hands).  Mercy Air with Anne Herbert hosted a rare outreach to teach the Sena people of the Delta to read and write in their mother tongue.  From Marromeu we were bound to leave daily by helicopter to visit unreached areas to introduce a new reading book in their mother tongue – a first!  The trip was about to get very very interesting.  The outreach …. promised to be an amazing view into the world never seen by the outside world.  The 5 day outreach would connect with YWAM in Marromeu under the leadership of Shephan and Caitlyn.  Before i take the story too far …. let’s start with day 1.
1.  Getting packed
Ron Wayner (co-pilot) start packing the plane.
We had (it seemed to me) too much luggage.  Paul Middleton squeezing all kinds of luggage into the wing of the plane.  “Imagine that”, I though ….”into the wing!” 

The plane which I had to place my life into.  Surely it did look much smaller than a 747 Boing! 

 2.  Always make friends with the pilot

Paul Middleton – Captain and chief pilot flying us from Chimoio to Marromeu!  Making friends with the pilot is very important my mom always taught me.  Don’t know why … really … but I did listen.  And what a friendly man Paul was.  He is from the UK and been flying for Mercy Air (RSA) for many years know.  
Pre-flight check!  I immediately asked the pilot how many hours he had under his ‘wing’.  I know that was a rude question, but after he answered …. ‘a few thousand’ I caught my breath again ….. and thanked the Lord quietly.

 3.  Take off

At last … take off!  Have to admit you do feel the real experience of flight when you are in a smaller aircraft.  I suddenly felt a little braver as when I got in and buckled up.

And I even had a chance to take photos without shaking too much.

 4.  Arriving at destination

Marromeu is a very small town lying next to the mighty Zambezi river.  

The sugar factory at Marromeu actually keep the town alive.  Marromeu is in the background.

This is were life gets interesting.  You are very much part of the landing process in a small aircraft.  A sharp turn to the left, while I try to keep my glasses on my face with a small 1G force pushing my face left while I want to go right to balance the aircraft!

The landing strip right ahead.  It was a dirt strip which we had to fly over once to chase away all humans, cows, goats and bicycles.  The landing was phenomenal!

 5.  Arriving in Marromeu

Anne Herbert, Education project leader and remedial specialist enjoying the flight … I think!

Professional as always – Matias Reuter – helicopter pilot of Mercy Air (Switzerland)  welcomed us as we arrived at the Marromeu runway.

6.  Heli-pad housing

Matias Reuter (back) showing us the housing that he setup for the helicopter staff and outreach team.  Very professional and functional.

The kitchen setup in the container.  Although I wouldn’t stayed here – we were off to the bush immediately with another 1 1/2 hours to go, it sure looked nice.

The next few days would change my outlook on education forever.  But that is a story for our next article.  I survived my biggest fear …. flying in a small aircraft … and realized …. ones fear … is easier to overcome than it looks like from afar.