Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bush Pilot!

This is coolbert:

"We shall be unable to turn natural advantage to account unless we make use of local guides." - - Sun Tzu - - VII. Maneuvering - - 14.

In this particular case - - not a guide - - but the African bush pilot.

"The term bush flying most likely came from a term to describe the land in Southern Africa, bush . . . any wilderness areas beyond clearings and settlements, which bush flying flies over."

"Bush flying is the primary method of access across the Canadian and Alaskan tundra and the Australian Outback." AND IN THIS CASE, INTO THE INTERIOR OF AFRICA!

"Airline contracts in Africa ease strain on U.S. pilots"

"Companies know tricks of flying in rugged territory"

American military forces [Camp Lemonier and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa] employing local nationals, "bush pilots" for military air service, and with great success.

Employing local nationals in what is normally a military role, the task being performed perhaps better, and cheaper too!

"Another benefit is the familiarity the local pilots have with Africa, Crocker said. 'These guys fly in and out of these fields and they are good at it,' he said. 'They are experienced, they have the understanding. Because of them we can get places we couldn’t get to otherwise.'”

"The cost for a trip is $1,800 an hour, Crocker said, only a fraction of the roughly $3,000 to $4,000 it would cost to have a U.S. military C-130 make a comparable flight"

Bush pilots, intimately familiar with the local conditions, the airstrips, the operating conditions, the weather, the peculiarities of flying the Africa skies, and good at it - - pilots sometimes with DECADES OF EXPERIENCE under the most trying of circumstances and used to same!!

"Shaw [one of the bush pilots] said he knows exactly what to look for when he flies African skies."

"'A lot of animals like the heat of the tarmac,' he said. 'I’ve seen a zebra get hit by propellers; wildebeests and gazelles. I could go on all day. You really have to watch it.'”

“'You have to watch out for birds, animals and people,' he continued. 'Some of the airstrips are water logged. The tricks come with time.'”

Africa poses a perhaps unique challenge for military forces in that soldiers have to contend with DANGEROUS ANIMAL LIFE! "Critters" that can stalk, attack, kill and eat you, and are most desirous to do so. For aircraft, east Africa is a major bird migratory route, large birds, storks, eagles, etc., BASH posing a serious threat to airplanes!

Roads, quite often serving as "airstrips", to the extent they do exist in some of these isolated areas, are for the most part dirt paths with a slight degree of improvement? East African weather too consists of the dry and wet! When the wet [monsoon season] occurs, those "roads" become mud bogs and are generally unusable?

I would have to think that pilots such as Shaw are too a product of a Darwinian selection process at work. This bush pilot flying is rough and dangerous work. Those that last a long time just by virtue of their ability and knowledge survive, lesser aviators having "bite the dust" a long time ago.

There is too a World War Two [WW2] era James Cagney movie the subject of which is the bush pilot [Canadian] desiring to join the military as an aviator! This is: "Captains of the Clouds ".

"Inspired by Churchill's Dunkirk speech, brash, undisciplined bush pilot Brian MacLean and three friends enlist in the RCAF but are deemed too old to be fliers."

Canadian bush pilots, to their great disappointment, are told they are too old to fly as combat pilots, BUT ARE ACCEPTED INTO THE RCAF AS PILOT INSTRUCTORS! A role in real life that these masters of the air are ideally suited for.

And in the case of the African bush pilots now employed by the U.S. military, ideally suited too, in a way that "outsiders" would not be.


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