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LGW-FNA By Astraeus

Tue Nov 09, 2004 8:55 pm

On 25 October 04 I flew from Gatwick to Freetown in Sierra Leone on Astraeus B757 G-OAVB - a very comfortable flight with excellent leg room. Arrival was a bit hairy with a go around at 2000 feet on account of thunderstorms - first choice for diversion would have been Conakry in Guinea which might have been interesting, but we landed and waited for the thunderstorms to abate before taking the Paramount Airlines Mil 8 helicopter 9L-LBV across the estuary to the town. $37 each way for a six minute ride - the other options being a hovercraft which often breaks down half way across or a flat bottomed ferry which takes ages. Paramount's two other Mil 8s 9L-LBT and LBU were at the heliport awaiting servicing. My hotel overlooked the heliport and the adjacent second heliport which served the UN mission at the Mammy Yoko Hotel so I was treated to a procession of UN Mil 8s coming and going. I was able to visit the military HQ where I saw the VIP Sea King, a Mil 24 Hind and an Alouette, all of which were not currently flyable. Back to the airport by 9L-LBV, this time in daylight. From the air could be seen the remains of a Guinea B737 3X-GCM which crashed on take off a few weeks ago. Also present were three UN Mil-26s and a UN An-72 (ES-NOK) but most interesting visitor was An-24 9L-LBQ flying jointly for Union de Transports Africains and West Coast Air Services. Then it was back on board G-OAVB again, and back to Gatwick. Does anyone know anybody who is stationed with the UN in Sierra leone at present?

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