Behind stands a Cessna 206, a 6 seater, Flying Medical Service favorite workhorse. Compare it to a Land Rover with wings.
It’s amazing what a few boxes of medical supplies, a doctor and 2 nurses can accomplish in the most remote areas of Northern Tanzania. The most common diseases can usually be treated on the spot. Notable exceptions are severe cases of malaria, complicated pregnancies, and various wounds. The Tanzanian bush could show some similarities with the Wild West. Spears, machetes, wooden clubs are still common. Kalashnikovs become sought after. Add wildlife for a nice combo. That’s why we need some extra seats for occasional patients to bring back to the nearest hospital.
A selection of airstrips in the most beautiful landscapes.
Measles, polio, tetanus, BCG…up to 10 vaccines are nowadays administered.
A doctor, here with one his metallic cases full of medicines, typically works in the shade, whether provided by a tree, a wing or a hut.
Masai people, fake or not…. Notice the so un-Masai hats.
The old quarter in Stonetown is a huge trap for tourists, but I like to walk in there.
Only a few famous things out of Zanzibar: Freddie Mercury of course but his lifestyle doesn’t quite match the local culture to say the least so references to him are not at all that widespread. Then there is the clove spice. And in French culture (and elesewhere maybe?) a sexual position is quite famous, “la brouette de Zanzibar”. Une brouette is a wheelbarrow. Use your imagination!
Watch for various signs, the mix between local and foreign is always amusing.
That tourist made my day!.
I was experimenting with a new smartphone. Great toy or notepad I agree. One main flaw as on all digital screens, the picture doesn’t appeared very detailed due to reflection. So once in a while I see my bloody shadow in the picture..afterwards. I then miss a good old optical viewfinder. Optical, not electronic either.
Out of the blue, this beautiful aircraft showed up in Arusha. The owner and a pilot friend wanted some familiarisation flights in the bush. So we flew 3 days. Here we are in Monik, a Flying Medical Service airstrip on lake Natron. The volcano Lengai in the distance was splendid that day.
because of the small wheels and fairing on this aircraft, we couldn’t go to the roughest airstrips. But for 2 normal Belgian pilots, those easy strips were amazing enough.
Another day in Endulen, Ngorongoro area. Zebras were all over the place, including on the airstrip.
The wheel fairings had been removed. The small rocks could destroy them.
A Go Pro 3 camera had been fixed on the wing. Amazing quality, I want one now…I’ll post the link soon.
We did some other airstrips but didn’t stop completely in all. Flew gently in some gorges, overflew the flamingoes on lake Natron, enjoyed the colors and abstract shapes of that wonderful lake, spotted wildlife, circled over the Ngorongor Crater...
In Malambo, we were threatened by a drunk Masai and his spear! In Olbalbal, we kept the engine running but I gave medicines urgently needed to the local health worker. Thanks to Miguel and Johan for helping Flying Medical Service. The plane is even made available for FMS but we declined. This yellow beauty is brand new and our operations would wear and tear it pretty quickly.
There are quite some difference with our preferred C 206’s but this FB-A2 Expedition E350 would do wonders, it is real bush plane. Some minor modifications would make it a bush killer.
Anyway I enjoyed the flying very much, was happy to meet new cool dudes and their equally cool passengers.
Flying Medical Service…in Tanzania. I ended my second tour of duty last month but I still feel close to the group. An airplane has been lost, a replacement is much needed. If anyone is interested in a good cause, please visit the Facebook page, Flying Medical Service, or visit the website http://www.flyingmedicalservice.org/. Thanks a lot!
The remote bush…a myth, a dream for traveller but sometimes a hurdle for local people who live far from everything. They will walk for hours just to attend our clinics, receive vaccinations, treatment or sometimes a lift back to the nearest hospital for the serious cases.
here a basic hut for the doctor and his patients, the pregnant women….
But privacy is sometimes a luxury so a tree will do.
Remote bush I said…
the type of village we serve.
after a bush fire.
pictures fished out of my old files, film photography. But the situation hasn't changed at all...
Flying Medical Service is an NGO in Tanzania, for more information n the work we do, please have a look at our Facebook page or the website. We need a replacement aircraft like this after a spectacular loss last week…
This is a typical scene, the aircraft, the people (here Masai) waiting for their turn either for vaccination or treatment.
Our missed C 206 taking off from Arusha on a beautiful morning. Mt Meru in full glory.
A village and an airstrip near the active volcano Lengai. Some places are really remote, without even a decent dirt track.
Masai people can walk for quite some distance to see us every 2 weeks.
Things change. 10 years ago, none of our clinics had a network.
Masai pregnant women receive a tetanus vaccination shot.
A lady carefully listens to our doctor.
A typical village without any form of facility. The closest hospital is 2 days away for a fit warrior.
Sometimes we have a hut, so the doctor can work in a private environment and have a shelter, sometimes the wing is all we get.
Unfortunately an accident happened last week in Ilkiushi Oibor, also called Mkongonero, south of Arusha. Fortunately, though some injuries are serious, nobody died.
To make it simple, the cause of the accident is a fly-by that didn’t go well.
I was away for the week so I didn’t take part in the first 2 flights out there, that is the rescue flight with a larger plane to bring everybody back, including the 2 girls on stretchers, and then a second flight to bring an aviation inspector and assess the wreck.
It was then decided to fly a 3rd time this Sunday. I joined Pat my former boss, but still friend, at Flying Medical Service down there with a big tool box.
Not a pretty sight… N36MS lying to rest.
a wheel track after the fly by went wrong. Further are the scrubs and the tree the plane at high speed.
here are some bits of the windows, probably on impacting the nose on the ground after the tree collision.
Pat having a close look . That nose wheel alone in the sky should be at eye level. While the engine was ripped apart, the whole front section was bent downwards, yes not upwards, the plane must have been by then close to vertical position on the first impact…
that is one wing. Yes, fellow pilots, that black hole is the fuel cap, which means indeed the wing has been twisted upside down! The tail was torn and twisted forwards at an angle 140 deg angle, and sideways 90 deg. The portion sticking up is an elevator. The 2nd elevator was found 70m away. A cargo door had been popped out…
and again those amazing landing gears, the 3 of them, were intact! Funny enough the main tyres were flat. Fat thorns had been picked up while going through the acacia tree.
the seats and the instruments are all over the place. We couldn’t help wondering how nobody got crushed, especially the 2 front passengers…Cessna engineers definitely did a great job in designing the C 206 cabin.
lots of onlookers, some helpers too, others impatiently waiting for us to leave and finish off the wreck. Nothing gets really discarded in Africa.
we are looking to replace such an aircraft. In the meantime we are not able to provide our usual medical care in the remote areas. People won’t be able to get treated, kids won’t received their vaccinations… So if you are interested in donating, just visit our website http://www.flyingmedicalservice.org/, thank you.
Tanzania is a country of contrasts. Here are some pictures shot in the mythical Rift Valley.
This is the only active volcano in East Africa, Oldoinyo Lengai. Though as said yesterday, Mt Meru near Arusha, is a threat again. Congo and Ethiopa also share the honor to hold active volcanos on their soil.
after the accident last month and the numerous pictures about the wreck and salvaging trip, maybe it would be nice and more cheerful to show a bit of the regular work.
No matter what the useless local newspapers wrote, Flying Medical Service is a non religious organisation, not a missionary one, otherwise I wouldn’t be flying for them. The confusion comes from the fact that my boss is a priest but more importantly a pilot. But he is quite good at keeping things separate.
So we operate 2 Cessna 206’s, well normally that is, to about 30 airstrips and 3 hospitals for our regular clinics where we provide medical treatments, vaccinations and sometimes an evacuation back to the hospital. Emergencies, medical or other NGO staff transfer are on our programs too.
We have the splendid privilege to fly the real bush in odd conditions, see the most stunning landscapes in northern Tanzania. And Flying Medical Service airstrips are of the special type. We’ve had an ex Marine pilot here who once was asked why he did fly for us. His answer should be framed: “I wanted to do some real flying…”. Even if he was half joking, I still feel good about that!
here is a nurse attending a pregnant Masai woman. She’ll receive folic acid and iron pills, her blood pressure and weight will be checked, given a tetanus shot…part of what we call ANC, ante natal care. Family planning is also available and becomes more and more popular. It’s about time: Masai women still have at least 6 kids in average.
A doctor will set the ‘practice' wherever he/she can, under the main tree, under the aircraft wing or sometimes in a hut. All we need are 2 or 3 boxes of medicines for the most common diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia, various infections…for the difficult cases, pregnancies usually, we fly the patient back to the hospital of the day. It’s really amazing what a doctor in those conditions can achieve.
people will walk form far away to meet us. The audience can be quite colorful!
in case the bush hospitals can’t help, the patient is flown to a better location. These are old pictures from 1999 when ambulances were still quite non existent, we’d use our own little jeeps. This boy didn’t make it. It will always stays a weird feeling to fly somebody, hoping the patient will make it and then we hear the bad news. Strangely enough, we’ve seen the most spectacular cases on board and the survival rate is incredibly high. We’re talking about bullet, lion, leopard, buffalo, snake, hyena gory wounds, and the list goes on with various diseases, arrow and spear in the head or through the torso, a face chewed up by a hyena, a skull split open, car crash victims, or aircraft lately…
Engoveroni, a most difficult airstrip on the slope of a crater, Empakai, in the Ngorongoro highlands. At 6500 ft our Cessna 206’s seriously lack power. A turbocharger would be welcome. The airstrip itself is located on a ridge, there is no way a safe go around can’t be done, the airstrip slope is at 11% (for the pilots, the VSI shows 600 feet a minute down on take off). So when something went wrong just before landing, the pilots tried a U turn in a narrow valley and unfortunately hit the side …
that’s the white speck in the middle of this picture. The airstrip sits on the upper left.
quite in the middle again. Brian at the controls while I shoot during the second flight to rescue the passengers. Just cuts and bruises and a wrist fracture…
they didn’t miss by much….
some cropped pictures for details. Masai people came to the rescue, very helpful. Nobody died whatever the f... rumors said.
the red cross…that’s our belly pod which was ripped off on impact, then the airplane flipped over 30m away. Notice the white spots? The medicine bottles and jars littered along the crash path. The passengers looked terrible, were in pain obviously, there is blood everywhere inside the cabin which is only a bit crushed by the way(thanks Cessna for the good design) but most have been released from hospital already.
Wings are chewed, the tail is nearly severed, the engine is completely ripped off the aircraft, the propeller looks designed by Picasso…
the belly pod and the medicine trail...
a better view of the valley side.
a friend mentionned a broken butterfly…
we flew again today with various team members and an inspector to have a close look and salvage many little things like instruments. It looks way worse from the ground than from the air!
And impressively enough there is a lot more to salvage so it was decided to drive there tomorrow with a pick up and bring the big stuff back. A little adventure awaits Jacek and I. Oh yeah baby…