by Felix Gosher
It was August/September 2013, I was working for Coastal Aviation in Tanzania, who had a contract in Northern Mozambique at a seaside Village called Mocimboa da Praia, transporting personnel between the Anadarko camp and the natural gas fields off the coast of Palma and the arrival point at Pemba. Every Caravan Pilot in Dar es Salaam got rostered for 6-8 weeks to stay in that village and fly the transfers on C208B 5H-LJX. There were various other Aviation contracts on the go as well, supporting the exploration of natural gas in and around the Rovuma River (the border between Tanzania and Mozambique) which formed an estuary into the sea.
There were helicopter pilots from various companies, Cessna two oh six pilots from a local operator and then Jet Pilots on ERJ145.... Flying for Solenta, the Anadarko personnel in from Johannesburg daily.
Most of the Pilots stayed at the Anadarko camp on the Airport Premises.... which was a very restrictive camp, there was not a drop of alcohol consumed after six pm in the evening and only at the local outlet from the little airport terminal. In the village where I stayed in a cottage with Paulo our Italian Operations Manager and a very emotional Labrador I think called Shumi (used to howl for hours for no reason other in my mind, then being bored out the mind), there were long days of poor internet, and waiting in the hot sun for flights that often got postponed, and remaining on endless stby, however in the evenings the main treat was the abundance of fresh seafood, line fish and prawns that would in other places cost a fortune, but over there this turned out to be an absolute commodity and blessing.
There was so much quiet time in between the sparse flying, you could really work on yourself spiritually, I even tried to do some yoga and read a book.... with a few morning jogs down the main dirt road through the village. Seeing the morning activities of village life, and marveling at those acacia trees and baobabs on the brink of a turquoise Indian Ocean... was pure magic.
Whether or not you liked it, the boredom inadvertently set in. You could only sit on the step outside under the shade of the garden tree for so long, or on that wooden chair that had the names of every pilot before you carved in it... ‘Tom Blakey June/July 2013, Stephano Bertoldo April/May 2013..... it was definitely a little honour to get to carve your name in the chair on the stoep.... but even those little special things couldn’t fill your day entirely....
Then one day on Standby at the airport I was sitting with two other pilots on the bench in the airport terminal.... none of us had been in contact with or seen a dolled up woman since we’d departed for contract .... we were staring out into the distance of the Mocimboa horizon..... when the shrill Of a rear engined jet landing rumbled the glass doors of the tiny airport terminal ..... it was an ERJ145 operated by Solenta..... wow that was exciting..... something finally happened at the airport ! While our aircraft sat parked with sunshades, us awaiting instructions that never seemed to arrive.... after the parking of the ERJ in front of the terminal and shut down, the air stair popped open, and at the helm of the exit was this beautiful blond air hostess, hair tied up in a gorgeous bun, in a silky blouse, a Solenta Scarf, tight dark skirt, and the longest legs in stockings and heels!!!! I looked down the bench at the poor bastards next to me, as their eyes grew big and jaws started to sag..... I realized no one wanted to say it..... but that right there.... looked pretty damn good!!!!
After the pax disembarked, the pilots of the jet and that gorgeous hoastie made their way off the aircraft towards the terminal.... I noticed the three of us bush pilots staring that the cow dung floor of the terminal, taking sneak head-lifts and glances at the Goddess approaching us from that sleek jet aircraft parked out in the hot sun..... wheeling her overnight suit case, her heels ‘clucking’ on the tarmac towards us..... I swear our heart beats were racing.... we had not seen anyone quite as beautiful as her in weeks going into months!!!
Through the door and maneuvering past us, I think she in the corner of her eye walking behind her Pilots -noticed one of us mess up an eye candy glance, we got caught red handed noticing her.... she stopped.... right there before us.... in this incredible Afrikaans accent while staring us down with glass blue eyes and smiling.... she uttered ‘what?! Am I a Hamburger?’..... there was no possible way to respond..... it was too much to process.... we just hung our heads in a line and just waited while she proceeded giggling.... out through the airport doors.... I looked at the guys next to me.... there was just blood red blushes.... That was the best damn hamburger in town ! And all gone..... in but a few seconds....