I've really been enjoying being busy helping with the MAF flight operations in Liberia.
Shortly after I landed at a remote location one day, our other aircraft, piloted by Ulrich Müeller, also landed (below) at the same airstrip.
I was about to load up two medical patients into my aircraft. But since Uli had just arrived, he gratefully offered to help with the loading, so that I could take some photos. Don't worry... we had previously already acquired permissions from all involved to be photographed. Personally I do not like to 'stage' photos, and I don't like to ask people to slow down, or pose, or whatever. It just feels fake. So if I'm photographing, I like to do my best to blend into the background, or at least out of the way, and then just shoot whatever is truly happening, as it happens in real time.
Practically speaking, that means that it's often very difficult or impossible for me to get good photos of the activities around a plane, when I'm the only pilot--because my first priority is of course always the safety and security of the plane/flight. So it's a rare but great opportunity when I have the chance to photograph another one of our pilots in action. And again, just in case you might think it would be awkward for a patient, or medical personnel to be photographed, I'll put your mind at ease by saying that we always explain that MAF is a not-for-profit mission, and there are many people who pray and give to help make these flights possible. It is important that we can also share with those folks how the aircraft are being used to bless people in remote locations. And most people are very understanding of that, and very thankful for the help, and very happy to be in the photographs. Even-so, I always try to be respectful and discreet in the way I photograph or show people (especially patients) and of course, that we always do have their permission first. So don't worry. ;-)
There was an additional patient, already loaded, and seated in front of the stretcher patient. Here, Uli is carefully strapping in the 2nd patient for the 1.5 hour flight that I would make to take both patients and the medical personnel accompanying them, to the capital city for treatment.
Upon landing in Monrovia, I was met and assisted, as usual, by the very capable MAF team.
Most patients are very happy for us to pray with/for them, which we did both before and after this flight. Here, the serving MAF country director, Leon Prinsloo, prays with the two medical patients after they have been loaded into the ambulance, and before they go to the hospital. It's worth noting that I had previously asked some of the local people in the remote town where I had picked up these two patients, "how long would it take to drive from there to Monrovia?" They laughed at the question and told me that it is not even possible to do that--not at this time of year anyway--not during the rainy season. They said that sometimes it might be possible, but it would be many days of tough travel, but right now they said the jungle roads are totally impassible. And it's also worth noting that both of these patients were actually in quite serious condition. I was very glad that MAF was able to provide help to transport them!
Switching gears... here is a shot of downtown Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia.
And here's a shot from just nearby the above one, which shows markets along the roads where people are buying and selling stuff.
This is not at all an unusual scene on departure from our 'home' airport here. The rainy season offers some challenging flying!
But it has the potential to look like this!... although, in the past 5 weeks of flying here, I've only had about 2 days like this.
Here's a few more shots from the air showing the remote and rugged terrain over which we fly...
And I'll end with a nice sunset after the rains cleared out a few nights ago...