Friday, March 21, 2014

Keep the tips

I kicked it enjoying another cup of coffee knowing I only had one flight at 1345. The camp manager found me and told me that I needed to contact World Headquarters. I spoke with Hannah on the sat phone and learned that I needed to pick up the Doctor for a med-evac from a place I'd never been and then bring the patient directly to the hospital (also a never been.)

I got the skinny from Andrew on both LZ's, hung up the phone, filled jerries with fuel for the trip back to Maun and cranked up. The Doctor's helipad wasn't in the GPS but I knew she lived upstream of a point that was in the GPS so I put those coords in and aimed a little to the left.

We found the injured party quite easily because they waited for us on a soccer pitch behind a gate into Chobe National Park. Buildings stick out like beacons in the unchanging landscape of the Kalahari Desert. I did an orbit and landed. While the engine was cooling down I spied a man in uniform with a machine gun approaching. I put up a hand for him to stop. He stopped so I figured I wasn't in too much trouble for landing in the Park.

I got out once the blades stopped turning and introduced myself. He said it was fine, just that he needed to make sure I was after the man with the bandaged hand not rhinos.

The Doctor did an assessment, re-bandaged and we were off. The hospital sits south of the airport and I was approaching from the north. I requested clearance to cross the active runway and land at the hospital. 'Negative, you do not have clearance.' Maun International(and I use the term loosely) Airport is quiet except for two hours of every day when people are brought in from bush camps to catch the flight to Jo-burg.

Of course this was one of those times. There were several planes in the circuit with two on final. I did orbits and said, 'Tower I was told by ground crew that I have approval to land at the hospital. I have a doctor and patient on board. Can I have clearance to cross the active runway or may you please call an ambulance to meet us and give me clearance to land on the apron.' Three sixty knot orbits worth of silence. 'A2-Hotel Lima Alpha you are cleared across zero eight direct to the hospital. Advise on the ground.'

It's really cool that they put a helipad in when the Maun Hospital was built but you gotta wonder how they chose the site. 'Look at this spot, it has trees, wires, and lamp poles, plus the mechanical turbulence from the building will make the towering approach jump from high risk to super high risk. It's perfect.' It was the first landing at the helipad with a patient and things went well, considering. Hopefully we can work the kinks out for next time.

No comments: