Monday, October 09, 2006



Hi Hans,

Finally I took some time again to write a few things down. I was in Bayanga last Saturday, the 30th of September. The flight was planned for Friday, but the weather on Friday was to laden with thunderstorms. We had a squall line coming in from the east and decided to fly the following day. I left at about 0800hrs in the morning. The air was still quite humid after the rains we had the previous day and the cloud base was at about 800 feet AGL. It was a thin layer of stratocumulus with a few holes in it. Those holes vanished after a few minutes of flight and I was flying over an area of pristine forest, which I unfortunately could not see as it was under a white blanket of fluffy clouds. Only every few minutes I would get a glimpse of what was underneath this white blanket.
But I felt confident that I would be able to descend through one those holes and fly underneath the clouds when I was going to arrive in Bayanga. The closer I got to my destination the scarcer and smaller these holes became. When I had less than 10 NM to go, I cursed myself for not having descended earlier because now the blanket seemed to cover everything. I was almost about to turn around and fly back a couple of miles, when I saw some forest shining through the cloud just underneath me. I spiralled down and I was about 300 feet above the ground when I came down to the cloud base.
It was an impressive sight. There were little columns of moisture between the forest and the cloud base and I felt like flying in a cave with stalactites hanging down from the roof just touching the floor. I had only 3 NM left and found the airfield without problems (thanks to the GPS). On the way back the sun was getting higher and started burning away the stratus. I could get a better impression of how vast the forest is there.

On Sunday I took two newly arrived sisters to Mobaye and was planning to stay there till Tuesday. I like spending some time away from Bangui because I enjoy the tranquillity. In Bangui there is always some kind of noise. There are the cars and motorcycles, the barges on the river, the generator when we have no electricity, the music from the little bars and restaurants nearby, the muezzin of the mosque and sometimes the people of some obscure sect who have established themselves nearby shouting and singing until 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning. So when I was in Mobaye I started reading a book of Jean Ziegler. He is Swiss and is presently working for the UN. The book is called ‘The Empire of Shame’ (a direct translation of the German title ‘Das Imperium der Schande’ so I do not know whether this is the real English title). The book gives you some insight of how the developed world is still exploiting the Third World. How the big enterprises of Europe and America are making huge sums of money over the backs of the poor. The book has got about 300 pages and I had finished it on Monday evening. There are some amazing figures in it, e.g. that in 2004 the whole world has spent 780 Billion US Dollars on the military or that only the 500 biggest enterprises control almost 50% of all the wealth that was produced in 2004 worldwide. It is definitely a book worthwhile reading, makes you think a little.
Tuesday morning I flew from Mobaye to Kuango to pick up one sister and then continued to Bangui. An uneventful flight, so I will not bore you with the details.
Wednesday morning I flew with two sisters to Bangassou and spent the night there. At about three o'clock Thursday morning I heard the rain drumming on the roof and some thunder. When I got up at six it was still raining. Fortunately the rain stopped at about eight thirty and we took of at half past nine. The winds were pushing us along and at FL 60 we had a groundspeed of almost 120 knots in the climb at an indicated airspeed of 95 knots. So I decided not to climb any higher, since we were heavy as well. I had 4 passengers with some luggage and our trusted aeroplane was battling to climb at 300 to 400 fpm. As usual the thunderstorms were waiting for us about 100 km to the east of Bangui. They were well spaced though and I could get through with only a minor detour to the south. But when the storms arrived in Bangui about an hour after our landing the winds were really strong and I was glad that we had encountered only some turbulence when we had flown past. In the afternoon Tanneguy and I went for a drink to the U'Bangui Hotel since it was my birthday (I am 29??? now). We enjoyed the nice view of the river in the light of the already low sun. In the evening we had a nice apéritif. Since this was naturally a very special occasion we had a digestif as well.
That night the noise from the bars did not bother me at all.

All the bestMario

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