My landing field at Kisia
For some time, I have been calculating doing a flight to Kisia. Last time I was at Kisia was 11 years ago, and I had gone by bicycle. My partner had wanted to abandon his bicycle because the roads were so poor. Kisia is 50 km. away by road, but the distance is shortened to 35 km (22 miles) in a straight line. We have a church run primary school and high school. We also have a medical dispensary that is supervised by the doctor and nurses here at Kikongo.
I decided that since I did not have any rivers to cross, and for the most part followed the road, if I had ideal weather conditions, I could push my limits. Last week, I notified the village of my intention to go there. I told them to make sure the soccer field was clear of weeds, and put up some cloth as a wind direction indicator.
Friday morning, before light, we had a weather front move through. Usually, after a rain, the sky is calm. Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) was flying on Friday and when the plane landed here, I got a weather briefing. The winds seemed perfect for a long flight in the direction I wanted to go. I topped off my fuel tank and took off heading West. I climbed to about 3,000 ft. above sea level. That elevation gave me a light tailwind. I was pleased with the engine performance at a higher altitude than I was used to.
Fifty minutes later, to the delight of the village, I landed at Kisia. Everyone wanted to get as close as they could to the machine. I couldn't walk around the machine without pushing people out of the way. The drummer installed his drum so that it was leaning up against the machine. Everyone was singing in a tight circle around the machine. This was a major event for the village.
I arrived in time to unload my equipment, set up the sheet, and visit with the village elders all before it got dark. Supper was not ready by the time I like to begin projecting, so I asked to begin anyhow, and eat while the film was running.
The children had never seen a motion picture before. Only the men who travel to Kinshasa have seen television, so having movies in their own village was a first. I projected Congolese Christian music, AIDS prevention music, a nature film, some sports, and the full two hour Campus Crusade JESUS film. You should have heard the collective gasp on the field when the nails were being pounded during the crucifixion, then the spontaneous applause at the first appearance of the resurrection. It is like experiencing the Gospel story with fresh eyes. I rejoiced to be able to project without a hint of rain in the air. The Pastor at Kisia is one of my former students. He has a lot to talk about now with the whole population having watched the movie that follows the Gospel of Luke.
I announced to the population that flying such a long distance really depended upon ideal weather conditions. If the weather was good in the morning, I would depart. If the weather was questionable, I would have to stay with them until the weather was good for flying. I got up before light to check and see if there were any lightning flashes around. I was pleased that the sky was remaining calm. I loaded the machine and set it up facing into the wind. By the time I warmed up the engine, the whole village was around the field again. This time, we managed to keep more order.
My dilemma this time was not what direction to take off from, but I had a dirt mound that I had to go over. It was like a pitcher's mound in baseball, but this was in the middle of the soccer field. If I went around it, my trajectory would be off. I decided to just go straight for the mound and see if I had enough speed to be launched by it. That is sort of how it worked. The chute came straight up and I gathered some speed before getting to the mound. It did launch me, but I came down again on all three wheels. I am thankful for the heavy shock absorbers that we added to this machine. I bounced, and then was airborne for good.
The air was remarkably calm as I climbed out of Kisia heading to Kikongo in the East. No hint of rain either. The wind varied in direction and intensity for my return trip. I went from a ground speed of 24 MPH to a ground speed of 38 MPH. It took me again 50 minutes to get back to Kikongo. There wasn't even any fog to challenge me when I arrived here. Any PPC pilot would very much envy both the flying conditions of the past two days, and also the sheer beauty of Africa seen from a bird's eye view.
We are beginning to have heavy cloud build up now at mid-day, so I am pleased that the trip is now behind me. Thank you for your prayers!
Glen and Rita