fasty
Topic Author
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2010 7:41 pm

To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:40 pm

Dear readers,

Welcome to my 2nd trip report. This will relate a daytrip we had between Lubumbashi and Kilwa, a remote big town at the shore of Lake Mwero, in the south-east of the DR Congo, near by the Zambian border.

BACKGROUND

A few days before the flight, I was informed that a plane was going to be leased by my company in order for some people to ship goods from one of our most remote branches, located in the town of Kilwa.

It only took me a few seconds to find a valid reason to join the flight and after a few phone calls, I was part of the trip.

I was a little worried because my passport was currently in Kinshasa for receiving the work visa, but I was quicly reassured by one of my experienced colleagues that we would skip all identitiy control as we would be directly driven to the tarmac. Not to mention that there was absolutely no security at our destination airport, so my mind was finally released

TO THE AIRPORT

The rainy season has really begun for a few weeks and it had been raining all night. When the minibus reached our home at 7.00 to pick us up, it was still drizzling and the sky was covered with heavy grey clouds.

The ride to the airport was longer than usual as the rain had flooded several portions of the main road and we often had to zigzag to avoid the mini-lakes forming here and there. We arrived at the airport a bit late but who cares, “our” plane would be waiting for us !

We took a right turn into a “service only” small road which was leading straight to the tarmac. After a wave from our
driver to some RVA agent, we were allowed in. It was really funny to drive on the tarmac, something we simple mortal voyagers will never have the chance to do.

We just drove across an Hewa Bora MD-82 bound to Kinshasa and ended up on a remote part of the airport where our bird was waiting for us.

Today we would be flying on a LET-410 (9Q-CMD) leased from ITAB. ITAB is a small Lubumbashi based company which is operating scheduled flights to Kolwezi (the mining capital of Katanga) and Kamina.

http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01060.jpg

Before boarding




AT Macedonian Airlines (Greece)">INTO THE AIRCRAFT

The seat arrangement was 1-2 with 4 rows, thus making a 12-seats capacity (they actually remove 2 rows from the standard configuration, thus making excellent legroom)

http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01064.jpg

Excellent legroom



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01061.jpg

Front Cabin



A few minutes after everyone had taken his seat, the engines started roaring pleasantly and soon the propeller was running in full speed.

http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01065.jpg

Taxiing along the runway



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01067.jpg

Gaining speed (note the Hewa Bora MD-82 and Zambezi 737-500 in the distance)



AT Macedonian Airlines (Greece)">IN FLIGHT

A few seconds later, we were taking off from runway 07 over the lush landscape of this early rainy season.

http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01069.jpg

After a sharp turn, we Crossed the N5 road, the aircraft heading to the north.



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01070.jpg

Getting higher



We soon reached our cruising altitude of FL095 and there was nothing much to do apart from sticking to the scene outside and of course taking pictures !

http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01071.jpg

Safety Instructions



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01074.jpg

Big mining field on the way



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01076.jpg

Chasing our shadow over the low clouds



After a mere 40 minutes into the air, we started our descent into Kilwa. The views were amazing all along our descent. We flew alongside the Mwero lake before performing a U-turn and finally land on the dirt runway.

http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01081.jpg

Overflying the suburbs of Kilwa



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01084.jpg

Alongside Lake Mwero



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01085.jpg

A few seconds before touchdown, mostly mud houses around Kilwa



After the brakes were activated the airplane gently touched down and finished his run in the middle of the “runway”. It’s the first time I’m landing on a dirt runway !

http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01088.jpg

Touchdown



The aircraft was parked a few meters away from the runway and we all disembarked quickly

We were welcomed by a few officials as well as our local representative

A vehicle came to pick the goods from the plane (it seems to be the only vehicle in town !)

AT KILWA

http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01089.jpg

http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01090.jpg

Welcome session



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01092.jpg

View of the “runway”



It’s a big event for this town were no scheduled flight has been seen since the Anvil Mining company has left when the global crisis stroke hard the DR Congo.

All the village had heard the arrival of the plane and they were all converging to the site, it was very impressing, we felt like the Messiah. Such a shame we didn’t have much to give all those children, critically in need for basic things such as school material etc.

http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01093.jpg

People coming to meet us



After a short walk we came to the center of the town where our branch is located

http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01094.jpg

You can also reach Lubumbashi by road but it will be an 8 hours ride and, during the rainy season, it’s only accessible by moto.



After a few busy but pleasant hours in Kilwa, it was already time to head back to Lubumbashi
We took a walk back to the plane site (I refuse to call it an airport), followed by all the children looking forward to see the plane taking off.

http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01147.jpg

Children waiting for the show



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01148.jpg

Terminal building  



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01149.jpg

Front view of the aircraft



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01152.jpg

This tire will soon hit the dirt ground before rising into the African skies



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01155.jpg

Our super-friendly pilot, Josef from Czech Republic, before boarding (with a colleague)



After paying the departure “tax” for which of cours there was no receipt, we boarded the plane and made ourselves ready for the return leg to Lubumbashi

The plane slowly reached the end of the runway, then turned 180° to prepare for takeoff

FLYING BACK

http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01160.jpg

Cockpit view while turning around



The engines were suddenly put at their maximum and the plane slowly (too slowly on my taste) gained speed.
It can be something from my imagination, but I really do have the feeling we lifted off at the extreme end of the runway, just before the first mud houses.

http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01165.jpg

Just after takeoff, the brilliant lake was visible on the left side of the plane.



The pilot had announced that there would turbulences due to forming thunderstorms but the flight was finally very smooth, letting us enjoy great sceneries along the way. This time, we were flying at FL125 (to avoid most of the clouds) ?

http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01168.jpg

Developing thunderstorm



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01171.jpg

Rainbow over the rainforest



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01175.jpg

Tropical downpour



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/10122010120.jpg

Mud road



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/10122010123.jpg

Before landing in L'shi



Landing was smooth and we were parked at our initial remote stand 50 minutes after takeoff from Kilwa.

CONCLUSION

Flying to remote places on small birds like this is a great experience few people have been able to live. I guess this is part of the good sides working in such difficult environments as in the DR Congo.

I’m also actually surprised how simple and smooth the whole process has been. Some of my friends were thinking I was crazy to go for such adventures but honestly, it was a real joy and at no time (except maybe at takeoff time from Kilwa) did I get any feeling of thread.

This is off course mainly due to the good condition of the aircraft and the skilled, as well as friendly, pilots. [BTW Special thanks to Josef who has provided the flight tech data]

Thanks for reading this TR and feel free to post any comment you may have

Fasty

NB1 For those who missed my 1st TR, here is the link :
Leaving Lubumbashi With Ethiopian Airlines

NB Here are a few photos taken in Kilwa for those who are interested to have a better idea to what the place looks like

http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01095.jpg

Haven



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01101.jpg

Pirogue on the lake



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01117.jpg

Market street



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01118.jpg

Dried fish



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01121.jpg

Palm Oil



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01137.jpg

Main road



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01139.jpg

This looks like actually the only vehicle in town owned by the local authoritites



http://i1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd377/frosty1575/FBMKLW-10DEC/DSC01143.jpg

Funny children



[Edited 2011-01-12 14:51:57]
 
RobMEL
Posts: 66
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:01 am

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:17 am

Awesome trip report, great photos too. Loved reading about this totally random flight.
 
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Ryan h
Posts: 1610
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2001 7:11 pm

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:53 am

Interesting, unusual flight. Weren't you worried about the poor safety record of Congo?

Quoting fasty (Thread starter):
After paying the departure “tax” for which of cours there was no receipt,

Bet that went into the pocket of a corrupt 'official'.
South Australian Spotter www.ryanhothersall.net
 
thegreatRDU
Posts: 884
Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2006 10:47 am

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:51 am

NO WAY thisis an awesome TR, Thomas
I've heard really wacky and crazy stories about flights like these......

Quoting Ryan h (Reply 2):
Interesting, unusual flight. Weren't you worried about the poor safety record of Congo?

It's on the back of your mind.....but you try not to think about....
Our Returning Champion
 
flyorski
Posts: 725
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2004 8:23 am

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:58 am

Wow! Amazing trip report! Thank you for sharing.

It looks really interesting seeing the small town. I liked the pictures from it especially, and found the food stands with fish interesting. Gives a view of how so many people spend every day.

The flight looks really great. I am sure it was an experience of a life-time. It was a fun read, thank you.
"None are more hopelessly enslaved, than those who falsly believe they are free" -Goethe
 
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allrite
Posts: 2373
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2007 11:28 pm

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:42 pm

Fantastic trip report with some great photos of places and landscapes so different to what we usually see. Can't wait to read your earlier report and I hope that you'll keep writing more.
I like artificial banana essence!
 
Checo77
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Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2004 11:39 am

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:10 pm

Excelent TR! Nice to see a Czech made plane fly sooo far away from where is was built   Also, good to see you found a friendly Czech in Congo  

DR Congo looks amazing! Such a pity they suffered and are still suffering so much!

Thanks for sharing!

Adam
Czech Boeing lover living in Lima
 
JL418
Posts: 401
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 5:20 pm

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:21 pm

Fasty,

great TR, I am absolutely stunned. The pictures of the rainforest really left me speechless, as it often happens whenever I stare at anything coming from Africa. I read your TR with pleasure and I hope many more will come, this is no ordinary flight - or ordinary route - at all!

JL418.
 
okapi
Posts: 161
Joined: Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:15 pm

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:56 pm

Jambo Bwana! Great TR. It follows nicely your L'shi to Europe other story which I read with great pleasure. As my nickname may suggest, I do have a particular interest in DRC...especially Katanga. Always nice reading about the aviation side of it. Any chance you fly to Kin with a trip report as well? It's been far too long since my last trip to the Congo. Yet, I still remember how it feels when you are an aviation enthusiast in Africa and planes are all so easily accessible. I'm also amazed by how green it is near Luano during the rainy season. I forgot it!

Thanks for sharing!

Asante sana

Quoting Ryan h (Reply 2):
Bet that went into the pocket of a corrupt 'official'.

Don't mean to offend you Ryan h, but do you really consider a US$ 10,00 tip given to the local official a bribe that is as bad as the corruption one may find in Western countries? It prevents human development of course but it is sometimes the only form of "irregular" wages, if any, someone will receive and that money may be spent in medicines. I've witnessed this one too many times, not only in Africa. The world is not always what it seems to be...Ask my Italian wife about her Prime Minister's tumultuous relations with the Justice....
 
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eastafspot
Posts: 906
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RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:29 pm

Hey Thomas,

DRC has finally found his reporter among this community, and it's much better like this! A.net fans will expect more now   

a truly bush masterpiece as i love. I have been planning a trip to DRC for a while ... and all those pictures (flight + Kilwa) might have just inspired me to do it faster than I thought. Are you still in Lumb'shi for while?

Quoting fasty (Thread starter):
After paying the departure “tax” for which of cours there was no receipt
Quoting fasty (Thread starter):
Terminal building

no key, no receipt => hassle-free process!

Quoting fasty (Thread starter):
Zambezi 737-500 in the distance

thanks for this info, as the route has been launched only late november

Finally, what are the fishbones on the mud road picture?


Keep it up for your great reports


East African Spotter
Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
 
fasty
Topic Author
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2010 7:41 pm

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Sat Jan 15, 2011 9:12 am

Hi all, many thanks for your comments ! This makes me even more enthusiast about posting future SA Linhas Aereas">TR as trips will pop up (although it ends up being a rather time consuming activity   )

Quoting Ryan h (Reply 2):
Weren't you worried about the poor safety record of Congo?

Well, I must say my parents in Europe were probably more worried than I was. It's true there are a lot of so-called "flying coffins" in the skies of DRC but besides this there are also a few reliable companies and ITAB seems to be in the white list (they have several daily flights and I never heard about any incident, not to say accident).
I keep fingers crossed ...

Quoting Checo77 (Reply 6):
Also, good to see you found a friendly Czech in Congo

Yep I was happy to have a chat with him. BTW maybe he will post one comment here, mmmh Jozef ?  
Quoting okapi (Reply 8):
Any chance you fly to Kin with a trip report as well?

Oh yes, rather soon actually, I'll do my best to post a SA Linhas Aereas">TR about it (but taking pictures in big DRC airports is rather tricky, you have to sneak)

Quoting okapi (Reply 8):
Don't mean to offend you Ryan h, but do you really consider a US$ 10,00 tip given to the local official a bribe that is as bad as the corruption one may find in Western countries?

This is an endless debate we have here as well. Most of state official are paid peanuts (something like 20USD monthly), so it becomes kind of natural for them to pocket this money, for survival reasons. The problem is that as there are absolutely no controls on what's happening, some large scale corruption is doing much harm to the country itself.
Let me give you an example : any passenger leaving DRC must pay a 50USD tax. For Luano airport only, there are about 400 intl PAX daily (ET, KQ, SA, UM), you can quickly do your calculation. But still the runway is in terrible state. Who will pay the consequences ? Airlines damaging their aircrafts and pax risking their lives !

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 9):
Are you still in Lumb'shi for while?

Probably one year to go. You're welcome anytime  
Quoting eastafspot (Reply 9):
Finally, what are the fishbones on the mud road picture?

It's probably some openings in the rainforst made by "creuseurs" (artisanal miners) so that trucks can easier collect minerals extracted by them.
 
planemad1
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:01 am

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:47 am

Very unique report and photographs. Not sure about those mats on the floor though.
 
MD11Bob
Posts: 97
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:54 pm

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Mon Jan 17, 2011 12:15 am

Hell fasty

amazing trip report from a very remote part of the earth. The photos from the landscapes and the city look awesome, very interesting. Thank you for sharing. I will now read your other report  

Robert
MD11Bob
 
The777Man
Posts: 5926
Joined: Sun Jul 04, 1999 4:54 am

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:04 am

Very nice report with very pictures! Really unique and not often coverrd in trip reports here.

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
lukeyboy95
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Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 7:07 pm

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:07 am

Very cool stuff....

Always a unique way to fly in Africa, and avoiding the roads is a great idea in the Congo. Zaire is not on my little trip through Africa, but it is good to see such a good number of African trip reports coming through at the moment.

Cheers

Luke
Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
 
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eastafspot
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RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:08 pm

hi again thomas,

Quoting fasty (Reply 10):

Probably one year to go.

Great to learn this, but definitely try to visit before you leave there, then 2 questions:
- the safest air-way from Goma or Bukavu to reach Lumbubashi?
- Does KQ still go to FBM?

regards

East African Spotter
Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
 
9w748capt
Posts: 814
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:27 am

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:26 am

Wow - I'm getting addicted to your TRs! Truly amazing. Your adventurous spirit is what makes flying so great - how else would you have been able to see all this and then better yet, share it with us? Keep them coming - I'm hooked.
 
fasty
Topic Author
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2010 7:41 pm

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Thu Jan 27, 2011 8:59 pm

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 15):
Great to learn this, but definitely try to visit before you leave there, then 2 questions:
- the safest air-way from Goma or Bukavu to reach Lumbubashi?
- Does KQ still go to FBM?

Hi eastafspot

There's some kind of daily connection with HBA between Goma and Lubumbashi. It involves a stop in Kisangani + a transit at FIH (where you must recheck your baggage) but usually planes do wait for each other so you can certainly make it.
You can find the laest schedules from HBA here : http://www.hba.cd/contenu/sites/Hewa...ms/media/file/Time_table_159_1.pdf

Yes KQ is still flying quasi daily to Lubumbashi

Really you are welcome if you wish. But I must warn you there's not much to do here and you will not find the same dynamism and activity buzz as you will get in Rwanda/Burundu or even in Goma.

Up to you my friend  
 
ba724
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 9:34 am

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Fri Jan 28, 2011 6:54 am

The suburbs of Kilwa,how absolutely African!Thanks for a very interesting TR! Loved it
 
magicalcarpet
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:13 am

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:24 pm

Hi Fasty,

This is one great, and very different TR. I enjoyed it tremendously. Plane sure looks new. And the photos you share were wonderful. Thank you again
 
reifel
Posts: 1538
Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2005 12:53 pm

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:34 pm

Absolutely stunning and exotic trip report. Loved it. Thanks a lot for sharing!
 
MSS658
Posts: 2454
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:16 am

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Thu Feb 03, 2011 5:40 am

Nice trip report, Nice to see an intra-congolese trip report.
Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
 
AirlineBrat
Posts: 483
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 7:40 am

RE: To The Heart Of Congolese Bush With An L410

Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:21 am

Excellent trip report! I like the picture of the airport terminal in Kilwa. Reminds me of the airport in Allakaket, Alaska (K68A). The 'terminal' is a small shack with 3 walls. Not very warm during the Arctic winter.
I'm leavin on a jet plane. Don't know when I'll be back again....

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