Don's Great Good Friday

DonDon Amborski’s Good Friday actually began on Maundy Thursday. Leaving Chilongolo (FMZ base near Lusaka) early in the morning, he grappled with delays at Macha, a huge thunderstorm, then a severed power cable at a temporary refuelling station, as he flew his passengers to Livingstone. Consequently he was forced to stay at Livingstone overnight. He booked into a guesthouse but soon discovered that the power was off - until midnight, that is, when he awoke to find his room well and truly illuminated!

Next morning he flew his passengers back to Macha. He then began the Good Friday schedule. By the day’s end, he had been airborne for 7 hours and on duty for 11. He finally touched down at Chitokoloki at 6.10pm, aware that sunset was at 6.27pm and the landing strip has no lights.

map of destinations In 48 hours he had served the aviation needs of:

  • Macha Hospital, and MIAM (Malaria Institute at Macha) in Southern Province;
  • Southern Baptist missionaries at Mongu, Western Province,
  • CMML missionaries and Chitokoloki Mission Hospital in NW Province, and finally
  • Chavuma Mission Hospital, also in NW Province.

He had carried 21 passengers, including patients who needed specialist treatment at other hospitals. He flew 11 hours in 2 days (approximately 1500miles/2400 kms) and he still had to get home to his family in Lusaka for Easter - another 2½ hour flight.

What’s the story on the patients he flew? When Chitokoloki (Chit) Hospital heard that a plane was coming in, medical staff immediately asked if it could transport one of their patients for surgery. In Africa it is usual for a patient to have family along for support so Don was asked to fly the patient, her newborn baby, her husband and her mother - and a bag of mealie meal to feed them all. They squeezed in and were soon airborne. By now it was 5pm and sunset was fast approaching. Don landed at the Chavuma airstrip at 5.25 and unloaded his charges to the care of the waiting staff. They then informed Don that their patients would be coming shortly with the doctor.

"What patients are those?"

"Oh, we have patients in need of ARV drugs (anti-retroviral, used in treatment of AIDS) and Chit is the registered dispenser of such drugs."

"Ok, but there won't be room for all of the family members."

One family then refused to allow its relative to fly! Finally it conceded. The patient was lifted into the plane. When Don moved forward to take up his pilot seat he discovered that he was competing for it with one of those disappointed supporters! When Dr Sam explained to her that the pilot really must have that seat, she relinquished it and Don got on board. With the day fast closing, he sped back to Chit to deliver his passengers into the care of the staff there.

How did Don feel about that demanding programme? He concludes, “Since Jesus wants us to serve one another, it was a GREAT GOOD FRIDAY!"