26 February 2014

Flight Following

OK so I am not very good about keeping up to date on my life here in Uganda.  It has been 7 months from my last post.  Life has been full!

My weeks got a little fuller at the beginning of November when I started training to "flight follow". 

What is "flight following"?

Any time a MAF plain is going on a flight it is in radio contact with someone on the ground. On Tuesday mornings I am now that person.  I have been learning the phonetic alphabet, I can almost get it all when the pilot uses it to spell something, and to record time in "Greenwhich Mean" or "Zulu" time.  I am also learning to write numbers really fast.

When the pilot it ready to taxi for take off he will call on the radio and let me know where he is going, how many people are on board, and the weight of the aircraft.  Once he is in the air he calls again to let me know what time he got into the air, his estimated time of arrival or ETA, and how far off the ground he is flying.

Half an hour after take off he then calls with his position in longitude and latitude.  If the flight is more then an hour a call will be made every half hour until landing.

When the pilot has reached the destination he calls to let me know he is landing, and then calls again when safely on the ground.

When the plan is ready for the next destination the whole process starts over again.

This is all done to keep the pilots and airplanes safe.  If there is a problem or emergency we can better asses what the solution will be with the information the pilot has give the "flight follower".

Like I said lots of numbers.

Right now I go to the MAF office to man the radio on Tuesday morning, but am hoping to do it from home in the near future.

So this is what my Tuesday mornings look like now.  I am really enjoying the experience and being a part of the flights we do here in Uganda, South Sudan, and East DRC.