Entebbe

Today we had a full plane to Goma.  I think that most of today’s passengers normally would have flown on one of the local airlines, but may have changed their minds.  The fuel truck at N’Dolo has been broken for the last few days so we’ve been scrounging for fuel drums to keep the plane going.  We were only able to get five drums today which meant that we would have to stop on the way to pick up more fuel.  As we had the passengers heading out to the plane, I spotted the previously broken fuel truck cruising around the airport.  I sent Claude (the Air Serv ramp supervisor in Kinshasa) to chase it down with the Land Cruiser.  A half an hour later, we had enough fuel to make it to Goma directly. 

There were especially strong headwinds so it took a little over four hours to get there.  We were dropping the passengers off in Goma and then heading to Entebbe to get the plane a little bit of TLC.   I needed to stop by the house in Goma to get some clothes for the weekend and to get a little bit of food in me.  On the way to the house we drove by the wreckage of the Hewa Bora crash.  We drove right through the police roadblocks right up to the wreckage.  I thought about taking a picture as we got close, but I don’t want to remember what I saw.  All that was left of the plane was about the first 20 feet or so and the tail.  The plane must have stopped almost instantly.  It seemed to have disappeared into the lava rocks.  I think that is an image that I will be trying to erase from my memory for a long time. 

In any other city, that size of plane would have left a massive scar.  In Goma, it would be hard to tell that anything had happened there if it wasn’t for the wreckage because the city (especially that part) is already half destroyed.  Most of the city is built over and built with the lava rocks and it looks like a DC-9 could have crashed a lot of places and the wreckage was turned into a house or something. 

It wasn’t a long flight to Entebbe from Goma.  We flew over Lake Victoria on the way in.  The countryside in Uganda is a lot different than it is in Congo.  It’s weird how you can tell you are in a different country just from the air.  There are farms and roads and terraced hillsides.  There is some of that in the DRC, but it’s not quite the same.  It is strange how much difference a line on the map can make.

The tower controller made us stop at the immigration office, but when we got there, they saw that it was only crew on the plane so they didn’t even want to see our passports.  After that pointless stop we taxied the plane over to the Air Serv hangar.  The hangar is near the old terminal where Israeli commandos came to rescue the hostages years ago.  The old tower is left there as a monument complete with the hundreds of bullet holes from the gunfight.  There was a sign at the base of the tower with a couple of flags (one was Israeli) and something about what happened.  I couldn’t really read it as I taxied by.  I would have expected the building to have been torn down or refurbished, but I guess it was kept that way since it is a bit famous.  Supposedly you are supposed to be able to go see the plane that was hijacked nearby the airport. 

old entebbe tower

The tower has since been repainted and refurbished, but the bullet holes remain.

 

 

On Monday I go back to Goma and then take another plane load of people back to Kinshasa with a stop in Kisangani.  I think the cross Congo shuttle will be pretty busy for a while.  The members of the American family that was on the flight that crashed were Seventh Day Adventist missionaries on their way to see their son in Kinsangani and I think will be taken there today by an Air Serv Caravan.  Their survival seems to be nothing short of a miracle.  Click here to read about it.

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5 Responses to “Entebbe”

  1. mormor Says:

    Patrick, the more I see of your “adventures” the more I pray for you! Maybe the plans of Air Serve have changed somewhat due to the crash…perhaps you get to stay around a bit longer. I trust AS have good mechanics to keep the planes safe. be careful. Your blogs are so interesting…keep it up! mormor

  2. janhasbro Says:

    Hi Patrick, We too pray for you and are glad to read how God is truly watching over you. Thanks too for sharing the story of the missionaries who survived the crash in Goma. God is good and we praise Him. It’s so interesting to read what you have been writing, because as usual we don’t seem to get the real stories on the news. Interesting picture of the tower in Entebbe. We remember that event. We’ll keep praying! Janet & Larry

  3. Courtney Says:

    Patrick–I read these blogs while I am on the metro and I am never able to comment using my blackberry! : ( It sounds like you are having an incredible time out there…incredible meaning wonderful? crazy? insane? adventurous? I am not sure! At any rate, I love reading your updates. Keep em coming! 🙂
    Court

  4. MOM Says:

    Its time for another update on your adventures!!!! You have been too busy!!

  5. Bryan Says:

    Thank you for the great picture of the tower. I was stationed there TDY with the USAF in 2006 while doing a humanitarian mission. We lived in Kampala and transported back and forth to the airport for duty. It was an enjoyable 3 months, and to be near all that history was AMAZING!

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