Chitokoloki gets a facelift
With FMZ (Flying Mission Zambia) pilot family, the Smiths, now stationed permanently at Chitokoloki(Chit) to serve the Mission with a Cessna 206, resurfacing of the somewhat uneven grass airstrip had become urgent. The runway has now been gravelled. A big job, it cost an estimated 60,000 US Dollars. In a wonderful way, that expense has been covered for us.
The work means that the airfield is now usable in almost all weather conditions. Recently 2 take-off attempts at Chit were aborted when the temperature rose to 105°F and the sand acted like an anchor on the tyres. The only solution was to offload one passenger with her luggage, which was very disappointing for both her and the pilot. Finally the plane took off.
Gravelling means that Chitokoloki is now accessible to the Cessna 210, which is 20% faster than the Cessna 206. On a flight to Lusaka, that saves 20 to 30 minutes. Chief Pilot Dave Lott also observed that one other benefit he saw was that 'no-one will need to mow the grass now!'
One worry with this project was that there wouldn’t be enough gravel locally. As it turned out, there was one seam close to the river and only about 3 kilometres away from the site. It was estimated that 600 truckloads of gravel would be required - and there was enough! According to the foremen, it was very good quality gravel too.
There was also a language barrier to contend with, as the foremen were Chinese- speaking, with minimal English, and they were working with 30 Zambians and a Spanish/Portuguese/English- speaking Mission Administrator. Despite this, the work moved along well.
As part of the refurbishment, the same road crew also constructed a taxi way and gravelled the area for a proposed hangar site. This is in preparation for the building that CMML will be putting up to house the aircraft.
These improvements mean that Flying Mission Zambia is now able to provide an even more efficient service to the mission, medical and church communities. We are excited to see how God is building the Kingdom here in Zambia.
Kirsty is a short-term volunteer with Flying Mission, serving for 3 months in Lusaka with Flying Mission Zambia. She is helping with PR and writing stories for the news site, among other things, and getting to experience Africa and missionary life. She comes from England and this time is part of her gap year between finishing college and starting university in the UK.