International Air Travel!

Recently I had the opportunity of doing an international flight for some of the Baptist Missionaries we serve. The two missionaries we flew were headed to Tete, Mozambique, to minister to their fellow missionaries there, as well as teach some local pastors. I was excited about this flight because I had never been to Mozambique, but also a bit apprehensive because with international flying in Africa you never know what to expect. The planning started with our chief pilot applying for clearances not only from Mozambique, but also from Zambia for an international flight between the two countries. He also called around to determine how much the international landing fees etc would be. I then did the actual flight planning and filed a flight plan. Tete isn’t actually that far from Lusaka, so the flight was only about two hours. The morning of the flight I took the plane to the Lusaka International Airport and found the passengers. Together we went through customs. Sometimes you get asked a lot of questions for a private flight, but usually it’s not too bad. We have nothing to hide, but too many questions can delay things. Thankfully, this time the customs agent was more concerned with his cell phone conversation than with us going to Mozambique, so he stamped everything with no questions asked!  After making it through the international terminal we found the exit door for the international flights. It was locked.  And the man with the key wasn’t anywhere to be found.  The airport staff prepare for the large airline flights, but in between there aren’t too many people around.  I went to search him out and left my two passengers at the door.  After several minutes of futile searching, I came back and found they had flagged someone from outside and he had gone to get a key.  So we made it outside, and loaded up the airplane and were on our way!  The flight went smoothly; as we reached the border Lusaka Air Traffic Control transferred us to Beira Control.  I made several radio calls but with no response. By this point we were well into Mozambique still with no response from their radios.  My passengers and I had a discussion on the correct way to say “Beira” thinking that my mispronunciation may have led to the non-response.  I pulled out my chart and found a different frequency and tried calling on that one. Lo and behold, they could hear me on that one and responded!  I’m still pretty sure I wasn’t saying “Beira” correctly, but they graciously overlooked that.  We continued on and made it to our destination Tete (we also discussed out to say that, because I heard it said three different ways on the radios during the flight…).

After landing we had to figure out where to enter for international flights. We made it in and found the window to clear customs.  After the initial confusion because there were 3 of us but only 2 had visas to enter the country since I was turning around and immediately returning to Zambia. They determined that I also needed to pay a fee because I was also at the window. So after determining that I would get a receipt for it, I paid the $25 dollar fee and we, along with the missionary we were meeting there, went to pay what I thought was my landing fees.  We were detained by a police officer because he wasn’t sure why we were going back out towards the airplane, but he only spoke to me in Portuguese .  The missionary we were with spoke Portuguese and responded to the officer. It was interesting because the officer continued to speak to me (I had the official looking pilot uniform on) even though I obviously didn’t understand a word he was saying.  He allowed us to continue and we paid the fee. I said goodbye to my passengers and went to the control tower to file a flight plan.  I wasn’t sure where to go in the building, so ended up climbing the stairs all the way to the controller in the tower.  He was tickled that I had come up to see him and we had a great conversation.  He pointed me to the correct spot to file the flight plan and told me if I ever came back to be sure to come up and see him again!  While I was filing my flight plan I was told that I hadn’t actually paid the landing fees; what we had paid in the other office was the “Customs fee” for bringing a Zambian airplane to Mozambique (even though it was in transit and wasn’t staying).  So I paid another set of fees and then was free to go.  My flight back to Lusaka was uneventful, and it felt like coming home when I landed back at the international airport to clear customs back into Zambia.  Overall, it was a successful day without any problems, so I thanked the Lord for that!  You just never know what to expect when you fly internationally in Africa.  I went back and collected the guys three days later, and even knew what to expect this time!

 

Sure doesn't look very far compared to how big Africa is!

Sure doesn’t look very far compared to how big Africa is!

Nice airport in Mozambique!

Nice airport in Mozambique!

Lusaka Kenneth Kaunda International Airport

Lusaka Kenneth Kaunda International Airport

Update March 2014

Hello from Zambia!
I hope this update finds you well. Many things have changed for me since my last update! Firstly, on February 27th, I celebrated one full year here in Zambia!! It seems like it has gone by really quickly, and I am thankful for all of the things I have learned and experiences I have had so far. Secondly, I passed my exam to become an aircraft maintenance engineer here in Zambia!! This is exciting news, and will help Flying Mission on the aircraft maintenance side. Thirdly, all of the paperwork for the truck I purchased has been finished, and the vehicle has been working great! Thanks again to all who gave me a little extra help with this. Now I am able to reliably get from place to place in the air, and on the ground. 🙂 Fourthly, I have begun getting checked out in the Cessna 210, a faster and slightly more complex airplane. Once I am checked out in it, I will be able to fly all of the aircraft we currently have at FMZ. Finally, my roommate of just over 6 months has moved on and gone back to Canada, we are grateful for the help he gave us while he was here!! I am thinking about getting a dog for company and security (see my SME below), but am waiting for the right one to come along. 🙂

Flying Mission Zambia is still raising money for our runway purchase, our base is located on 25 acres just south west of Lusaka, this is where all of our operations start and end, and we have been steadily working to improve it since we purchased it in 2005. Unfortunately, half of our runway has been leased from a family and they have not been willing to sell the land until now! We have finally reached an agreement with them!! But now need to finance the purchase of the second half of the runway. 🙂 If you are interested in helping with this CLICK HERE for more information!

SME (Share my Experience)
Most of the houses here in Zambia are one story and have steel “burglar bars” in the windows to help with security but no screens. This keeps anyone from climbing into your house through the windows. When I moved to Zambia I was told that it is a relatively safe place to live, but that petty theft is a problem and to be careful. So I keep my vehicle doors locked when I’m driving through town, and always lock my house etc., but kept most of my windows open, assuming the burglar bars would be enough security to keep everything safe inside. But I underestimated the ingenuity of those that would like to steal! I woke up early one morning around 4 AM and heard this faint “tapping” noise, I fell back asleep, and was in and out having dreams that continued to have this tapping noise in them. Finally about 4:30 AM I fully woke up to a loud tap. And laid there and listened and heard it again. So I got up to investigate. As I went down the hallway, I could hear the noise and it was coming from my living room! I stopped at the corner of the room and saw a young boy probably around 10 sitting on my windowsill hanging through the burglar bars with a rigid wire (like a long clothes hangar) “fishing” things off of my desk!!! The tapping noise I was hearing was his wire hitting the top of my computer. Well I wasn’t sure what to do, so I started walking towards him and got within about 3 feet without him noticing me, and then I yelled at the top of my lungs, “HEY, HEY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!” I think I about scared the daylights out of him (and my sleeping roommate), he was out of the window and into the bushes in about 2 seconds flat. After a couple of minutes of calming myself down and trying to see if anything was missing, I decided to go outside to see what it looked like out there. As I got to the back of the house, I found my computer charger, my kindle charger, and a few other things, as well as his rigid wire and a couple tools. Thankfully, he didn’t stop to pick up what he had taken when I scared him out of the window. It turns out the tools that he had been using were stolen from my co-worker’s/neighbor’s house several months earlier using the same technique. After doing an inventory of my things it doesn’t look like the kid actually got away with anything, but a hand held GPS that he apparently dropped from my desk onto the floor no longer works. Overall, I’m thankful because it could have been so much worse! But still it’s a good learning experience about leaving windows open with electronics within “fishing” distances!! Most of my windows are now closed, and I haven’t had any more problems. So that’s good.

Well that’s all for now, but if you have any questions or comments please email me, I’ll be happy to answer them and give you even more information on what life is like here in Zambia!

God’s Blessings on you all,

Jonathan

Send me Mail!!!!
Jonathan Weaver
Postnet #197, P/Bag E891
Lusaka, Zambia

Praises For:

  • Passing my Maintenance Exam!!
  • Celebrating one year in Zambia!!
  • The Lord is blessing me with a good attitude through all the changes and challenges.

Prayers for:

  • Continued good adjustment and focus on God.
  • Safe Flying and a good transition into the new type of Airplane.
  • For the ministries we support to be blessed by God in the work they are doing for him.

 

Well turns out my feet are quite a bit smaller then an Elephants...

Well turns out my feet are quite a bit smaller then an Elephants…

Look who wants to come to breakfast!!

Look who wants to come to breakfast!!

I love the clouds here!!

I love the clouds here!!