davescj
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Flying Inside The DRC, Sorry No Pictures

Sun Apr 20, 2008 9:12 am

This trip report is about a couple of flights I had with in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since they were unusual for me, I thought it might be fun to post as much as I could. So, here goes.

March 16 2008
Kinshasa to Kisangani (FIK)
Hewa Bora Airways
DC 9-51 (according to the safety card)

I arrived at the domestic terminal about 630, and the terminal was empty. An hour later, at 730, the place was a mad house. And I mean ZOO. Traveling in the DRC has its own surprises. And they began with check in.

First, I didn't check myself in. Rather, that gentleman who works for my company -- a local hire, driver, organizer, general help get stuff done guy -- took my passport, ticket, and luggage and fought his way to the ticket counter. I stayed out of the fray (and couldn't even always see him). He came back about 15 min later with my boarding pass. I then proceeded toward the departures lounge. Prior to security, the police looked at my boarding pass and passport. I also was required to show my letter for permission to travel within the country, signed by our local company manager, stating I was traveling for company work.

It was strange to see a plane painted all white -- no livery of any kind. F was rows 1 --4, 100% full. 7 on was Y, I was in 7E, bulkhead center.

Well, boarding happened in the usual way, going up 1L, via a stair case. About 15 min late, we started to taxi to the runway. The security demonstration was quite short, and done in French and Swahili (I think). The safety card included other languages.

We got to the runway, started powering up the engines. Then powered down, taxied back to the terminal. About 45 min later, we were ready to go again. It turns out that the FO was feeling ill, so we went back for a replacement. Once he was aboard, we closed the door, went to the runway and took off (no new safety brief).

Service on board for this morning flight was quite nice. We were given a package of cookies (125 g), coffee, tea and usual morning drinks. I saw F breakfast -- a danish.

We arrived about 75 min after take off, very smooth flight. The governor of this province was aboard with us, so he deplaned first. It was not until he began his official handshaking that the rest of us were allowed to deplane.

Now, by deplane, I mean straight onto the tarmac. We were able to see our luggage being taken off the plane and put onto a flat bed cart. Many people watched their luggage being put onto the cart. I started walking toward to the terminal.

As I was about to cross the tarmac service road, a man comes up to me and says: David Scj? Yes, I respond. He said my colleague had sent him to pick me up. After Kinshasa, I knew to expect this so wasn't surprised. He asked for my ticket, passport, and letter of travel and escorted me to the "Bureau D'migration" (sort of an internal visa check, or boarder police). They registered me into the province. And Then I went for my luggage. It was interesting to see the chaos that abounded. I stood away and let him grab my luggage for me. Again, I wasn't the only one, so again seems to be the norm.


FIK -- BNC (Beni)
Cetraca Aviation Flt #?
Antonov plane (I think)
9Q-CKQ

This flight was an experience. I will describe the plane, so someone can confirm the type. It was Russian, propeller , 3 blades, 1 x 2 seating, 7 rows. Does this help?

Ok, the usual preflight drama with check in (which my colleague and I allowed the local person we hire do it for us). Well, that went well. Suddenly, the whole departure area stood up. How they knew it was our flight, I don't know as I never heard a call. Oh well. So, open seating. I took a seat toward the back.

Now, for cabin crew who read this;

The only uniformed crew was the Capt. and FO.
There was no one taking boarding passes as we got onto the plane.
Luggage (and I mean checked luggage) was piled into row 1. Of course, no safety net to keep it from moving, and no such thing as overhead bins.

Can you imagine the FAA allowing that for a non second? Well, the capt and FO walked up the aisle, climbed over some luggage in the aisle, pushed aside the curtain and took their seats. They guy sitting next to me got up, closed the door to the plane. And the engines started and we were off.

Needless to say, no safety anything. I don't know what he could say, the plane clearly had no oxygen masks, and the seat belts (while present and functioning) were apparently not required. They were the old press a button style, not the lift the metal flap style.

The cabin service was non existent for this 3 hr flight. We flew in smooth skies until we arrived. We circled the airport a couple times waiting for a storm to blow over. Then we landed, quite smoothly.

It was as we landed that I realized there was no lighting on the runway or taxiway, and that the runway was a dirt strip. The first time I've ever seen either. We got off the plane, door at rear again, went to check in with the internal Migration people, and luggage was quickly brought for claim.

Interestingly, on the claim tag, you're advised it is not a bag tag as defined in Art 4 of the Warsaw Convention.


March 24
BNC -- FIK (Beni to Kisangani)

We arrived early in the day at the airport. I was impressed by the services at the Beni airport. They have a cafe, stores with convenience items, and even a lounge (Salon D'Honneur VIP). While we were invited in, we declined so as not to miss the flight announcement.

Beni has no separate area for check in, departure, security, etc. All is in the arrivals/check in hall.

There was an interesting calander listing people whom the world misses (Bado Tunawakumbuka Saana). Those, we in the world miss, are:

John Paul II, Cardinal Rugamba of Tanzania, Cardinal Nsubuga of Uganda, Cardinal Etgou of Kinshasa, Sheik Yassin of Palestine, Mother Teresa, President John Garang of Sudan, Sir Edward Muteesa of Uganda, Pres. Banda of Malwawi, Pres. John F Kennedy, Princess Diana, Patrice Lumuma of Congo, Martin Luther King, Pres. Obote of Uganda, Pres. Nyerere of Tanzania, Pres. Idi Amain Dada of Uguanda, Pres. Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Pres. Mobutu Sese Seko of Congo, Pres. Kenyata of Kenya, and Pres. Laurent Kabila of Cong.

Certainly an interesting selection.

Finally, it was time to board the antonov (9Q CAZ) to Kisangani. The flight is a repeat of the above, so I won't waste your time re-describing everything.



Later that day I took
Hewa Bora 122 Kisangani to Kinshasa

This was another DC 9. Again, about 1 75 min flight. The only difference between this flight and the other Hewa Bora flight was the snack was nuts, and cokes were served in glass bottles (like the old ones) and beer was offered as well ( for free, by the way).


If I can answer any questions, I will. Photos aren't allowed at airports, i was told, so I didn't try to take any. I am writing the TR from notes I took on the plane. As always, will try to answer any questions.

Dave
Can I have a mojito on this flight?
 
MYT332
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RE: Flying Inside The DRC, Sorry No Pictures

Sun Apr 20, 2008 10:21 am



Quoting Davescj (Thread starter):
This flight was an experience. I will describe the plane, so someone can confirm the type. It was Russian, propeller , 3 blades, 1 x 2 seating, 7 rows. Does this help?



Quoting Davescj (Thread starter):
Antonov plane (I think)
9Q-CKQ

Probably 9Q-CKX which is a Let L-410. According to the photo below. CAS operates two LETs, Kilo X-ray is the one 'with a white nose', as employees of the airline told me to distinct this one from Alpha Zulu. Like most Russian/East-European built planes the LET has a Russian/Ukrainian crew. Their other aircraft is 9Q-CAZ.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Guido Potters



Does that sound and look right? The info is from 2006.

In any case an awesome read. It goes to show how safe and over protective flying in the western world is! You're a fairly brave sole I must say!
One Life, Live it.
 
davescj
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RE: Flying Inside The DRC, Sorry No Pictures

Sun Apr 20, 2008 10:28 am



Quoting Myt332 (Reply 1):
Their other aircraft is 9Q-CAZ.

Since I was also on 9Q-CAZ at some point (I forgot which flight, so I didn't note it), I think you're right, it is a Let L-410.

And the picture is a great help! I love to fly, but I don't know my eastern aircraft!

It was an experience. To all FA's (esp those on BA and SA)">CO, being where I fly the most):

THANK YOU FOR KEEPING US SAFE! I WILL NEVER LOOK AT YOUR WORK THE SAME WAY AGAIN!

As to the crew, all the flight crew were obviously European, but I didn't see a name tag, but I'm sure you're right to say Eastern European.

Dave
Can I have a mojito on this flight?
 
A342
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RE: Flying Inside The DRC, Sorry No Pictures

Sun Apr 20, 2008 2:00 pm

Another plane which fits your description is the Antonov An-28.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An-28
Exceptions confirm the rule.
 
JRadier
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RE: Flying Inside The DRC, Sorry No Pictures

Sun Apr 20, 2008 2:28 pm



Quoting A342 (Reply 3):
Another plane which fits your description is the Antonov An-28.

Wikipedia lists it as a 15 passenger aircraft, which wouldn't fit in with the 2x1 seating in 7 rows as the topicstarter said.
For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and ther
 
A342
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RE: Flying Inside The DRC, Sorry No Pictures

Sun Apr 20, 2008 3:04 pm



Quoting JRadier (Reply 4):
Wikipedia lists it as a 15 passenger aircraft, which wouldn't fit in with the 2x1 seating in 7 rows as the topicstarter said.

Well, first it says 18, and anyway, for the L-410, it says 19. As we know, there's always some flexibility.
Exceptions confirm the rule.
 
BAViscount
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RE: Flying Inside The DRC, Sorry No Pictures

Sun Apr 20, 2008 10:41 pm

Just the kind of TR that grabs my attention! Fascinating!! Thanks a lot for sharing.

Cheers.

Andy.
Ladies & gentlemen this is Captain Tobias Wilcock welcoming you aboard Coconut Airways flight 372 to Bridgetown Barb
 
ba319-131
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RE: Flying Inside The DRC, Sorry No Pictures

Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:45 pm

Interesting read, makes a change form the numerous SQ & LX TR's we seem to get!

Quoting Davescj (Thread starter):
I also was required to show my letter for permission to travel within the country,

- Amazing, you have to have approval to travel internally!!?? - Does this apply to everyone or just foreigners?

Rgds

Mark
111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
 
caspritz78
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RE: Flying Inside The DRC, Sorry No Pictures

Mon Apr 21, 2008 10:15 pm

What a story. I think a bus ride in Europe or the US is more organized than these flights.
 
davescj
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RE: Flying Inside The DRC, Sorry No Pictures

Tue Apr 22, 2008 7:28 pm



Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 7):
- Amazing, you have to have approval to travel internally!!?? - Does this apply to everyone or just foreigner

I think so. Everytime I arrived, they took down my passport #, Visa #, and address I was staying at. It was interesting as all hand written in an old style register. Nothing was computerized.

Once, when arriving at Beni, the Migration officer thought my visa was about to expire in 2 days. He looked at the date the visa was issued, as opposed today of arrival. It was an easy mistake, as when I arrived they only used a date stamp, rather than the "official" stamp that lists arrival, airport, city, etc.

Dave
Can I have a mojito on this flight?
 
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viasa
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RE: Flying Inside The DRC, Sorry No Pictures

Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:44 pm



Quoting Davescj (Thread starter):
Hewa Bora Airways
DC 9-51 (according to the safety card)

Must be the plane which crashed some weeks after your flight.
 
davescj
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Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 1:46 am

RE: Flying Inside The DRC, Sorry No Pictures

Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:20 pm



Quoting Viasa (Reply 10):
Must be the plane which crashed some weeks after your flight.

I think you're right. I found it somewhat uncomfortable to realize I'd been on that exact route, as the flight goes from Kinshasa to Goma, with a stop in Kisangani.

Dave
Can I have a mojito on this flight?
 
fraspotter
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RE: Flying Inside The DRC, Sorry No Pictures

Mon Apr 28, 2008 5:36 pm



Quoting Davescj (Thread starter):
There was an interesting calander listing people whom the world misses



Quoting Davescj (Thread starter):
Idi Amain Dada of Uguanda, Pres. Saddam Hussein of Iraq

 scratchchin 

Quoting Davescj (Thread starter):
Certainly an interesting selection.


indeed....
"Drunk drivers run stop signs. Stoners wait for them to turn green."
 
thegreatRDU
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RE: Flying Inside The DRC, Sorry No Pictures

Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:37 pm

Flying domestically in the DRC is a nightmare, even some of the major cities don't have domestic daily service...
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