On the hanger floor

Posted on July 31, 2010


A bustling center for safari, commercial, and private flights as well as a wide variety of humanitarian flights, Wilson Airport is also home to Africa Inland Mission’s hanger. Walking around it is not uncommon to see airplanes with logos for Red Cross or the UN World Food Program. They are constant visual reminders that we are in a place surrounded by much need. Wilson Airport is, in fact, the busiest airport in Africa. Nairobi is a major base for flights into the most remote and difficult to access places of Eastern Africa. Places like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan, places so torn apart by war and instability that something as basic as roads, and healthcare and food are virtually absent. Places which are hard on the people and hard on the airplanes, making well-trained pilots and mechanics essential. Being here makes us thankful to currently be training these much needed people at Moody, as well as eager to move here ourselves to contribute to the work being done.

The AIM Air hanger is not only staffed by missionaries but also by national staff, and walking around, it becomes apparent that Kenyan faces far outnumber wazungu (whites). We have the distinct privilege of working with our Christian brothers (and a few sisters as well) who often have as much of a desire to serve the church as we do. In many ways some of them make far more sacrifices than we ever will. The Kenyan aviation maintenance system is difficult to navigate (and full of corrupt bureaucracy), so part of what AIM Air does is work to help the national staff to get their Kenyan mechanics licenses. The Kenyans range in experience, from those who have been working for longer than I have been alive and have much to teach us, to those who have not even completed school.

One day Claire and the other wives came to visit for lunch. Claire got to have the same lunch that John orders every day from a man who comes to the hangar and delivers Kenyan style food.

Claire was ecstatic that there was a cargo crate from Prince Edward Island, she kept squealing, “this box came from the home of Anne of Green Gables!”

The hanger has over ten aircraft in its fleet: Three Cessna Caravans, one DC-3, one King Air, one Cessna 2-10, and five Cessna 206s. Here are a few of them after the hanger was closed up for the day.

The Kenyans take their Chai (tea) breaks very seriously, everyday midmorning and midafternoon. Here is John pouring a cup of afternoon Chai.

Posted in: Africa, Aviation, John