Wikipedia's entry on the single turboprop Cessna 208 reads:
"On the flight deck, the 208 features standard analog gauges alongside modern digital avionics including digital autopilot and GPS, and modern radio and transponder equipment."
So why was our pilot opening his map an hour into our flight from Kurmuk to Malakal?
The trip was the first of four legs that eventually led us out of Sudan. We're now in Kampala, Uganda. From here it's back to the U.S. for me, and on to more assignments in Africa for Miguel.
Southern Sudan and many of the northern border areas are not the most convenient places to fly into, around and out of. The UN World Food Programme's Humanitarian Air Service — essentially the only game in town — alters its flight times daily to accommodate passenger demand. And most planes are grounded after dark, because none of the runways are lit. The result is that it's virtually impossible to make a same-day connection from one route to another.
So it took us three days to leave the country.
Thursday: Kurmuk to Malakal to Rumbek (the only scheduled flight of the week out of Kurmuk)
Friday: Rumbek to Juba (an afternoon flight, too late to connect to a flight to Entebbe, Uganda)
Saturday: Juba to Entebbe (which serves Kampala)
As for that first flight to Malakal, we landed on time and without a hitch. I don't know, maybe our pilot simply wanted to know the name of the river we were crossing ….
Well, it's time to sign off. Thanks Mum and Dad — and any other loyal readers out there! — for visiting our blog and letting us share with you some of the more interesting and compelling things we've seen over the last three weeks. We hope you've enjoyed following our travels.