Not long ago, I posted a photo on FaceBook of MAF’s Cessna Grand Caravan after parking at the airstrip in Arilo, South Sudan. The photo is somewhat confusing because the aircraft appears to have landed intact in the midst some very colorful trees. In reality, the airstrip is at the base of the nearby hills and is on open ground and is safe when dry. The photo was taken from a walking path to the village and the point-and-shoot camera was at maximum zoom.
Shortly after posting, I received a comment from a friend, Leighton Jones of Calgary, AB. Reading his message, I almost fell from my chair in laughter so I am sharing it here for all to enjoy.
A wild Cessna roams the savanna in search of a mate. Usually reclusive, these beasts of burden are occasionally spotted around dirt strips, operating on a steady diet of contaminated fuel, vacuum pumps and oil stolen from the operator’s 1974 Land Rover.
Identification of the young can be tricky at first; however as they transition to maturity, unique markings will develop around leaking wing-tank drain ports. Marking of territory is accomplished before each migration by leaving a small amount of flammable liquid directly under the nose. This may spread to a wider area if windy.
Exceptionally loyal, wild Cessnas and their mates are highly visible at dinner parties, often regaling their audiences of adventures and exploits long past their polite invitation has expired.
Global population of Cessnas is in excess of 100,000 and it is not considered endangered. ~ Leighton Jones
Thank you Leighton. Fortunately MAF’s fleet of Cessna Caravan’s are not suffering like the Cessnas you have encountered!
The schedule for the short 30 minute flight from Juba to Arilo had us on the ground for most of the day before the return flight in the late afternoon. Judith and I were invited to visit the church and lodgings for the Bible translators while the group of pastors and translators met with team members working in Arilo. It was an amazing place full of joyful people. Although hard to describe with words, the feeling was captured in melody by Julie Andrews when she sang “the hills are alive with the sound of music” A better and more robust description can be found in Isaiah 55:12
“The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
As we walked 1 km from the airstrip to the the village we could hear a flute playing; its sound carrying far as it rebounded from the surrounding hills. Some trees were blooming and the contrasting colours were vivid and alive. It was as if the trees were applauding the music; leaves resonating in harmony with the sound of the flute. We eventually met the young boy playing a four-hole, homemade flute made from a scrap of plastic pipe. The Lord blessed us on that day with a special memory that will live forever in our hearts.