Friday, April 12, 2013

Soroti Flight School


I recently read a blog post written by a friend who flew for Air Canada. He dealt with the concept of remembering where you came from and always thinking more of others. Yesterday I had an experience which lined up nicely with what I was reading so I commented on his post and then decided to post my comment here as it was an interesting little story.
MAF Uganda does a shuttle-type flight up into Northeastern Uganda three times a week where we pick up and drop off various mission, church and NGO workers all the way around. Each flight usually consists of about 4 stops and then back to our base. Our first stop was in the town of Soroti in central Uganda to drop off two guys from a church in the UK who were visiting a project there. There is a small flight school at the airport with a couple of 172s and I was warned by the supervising pilot, as we taxied in for shutdown, that it was normal, especially on a Friday, to be approached by some of the students for a ride back down to our base in Kajjansi. Sure enough, there were 3 or 4 well dressed private pilots watching intently as our Caravan rolled to a stop beside them. In an instant I recalled standing on the apron in Three Hills, Alberta as a King Air 200 or PC12 graced us with its presence, the unfamiliar smell of kerosene and the high pitched whine of turbine engines. Once in a while someone would work up the courage to ask to have a look at the flight deck while the pilots were waiting for a client. Asking for a ride back to Calgary or Edmonton would have been out of the question!
After checking with operations via cell phone I was thrilled to be able to welcome these Soroti Flight School students on board. We ended up taking all four of them all the way back to Kajjansi - at no charge. 3 of them sat in row 1 so they had literal front row seats to the action up front. And for the rest of the day, and the next 4 legs, I was semi aware of 4 sets of eyes watching my every move. Who knows what impact that ride on an MAF Caravan will have on those guys but if it were me - I know I'd remember it for the rest of my career.