Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Operation Runway Rehab!

Operation Runway Rehabilitation (ORR) is a program aimed at saving old airstrips in strategic areas of Gabon. This is accomplished by engaging the local governments and local churches near these airstrips and, hopefully, a foreign sponsor.

Here is a great example of "O.R.R." in action...

Welcome to "Panga", a very remote village to the Southwest of the country (that's the Atlantic Ocean in the distance). It is a very difficult village to get to due to, sometimes, impassable roads. Nearby is another village that you can only get to by using an old ferry.

As it turns out, a Frenchman once landed near the village to have access to his beach-side cabin. We conducted several visits to the site by car and, the day of our landing there, had a team on the ground.

As you can see, the grass was high, but the landing surface was, otherwise, solid and in good shape.

Upon touchdown, I chatted with Antoine, a local church elder. With the local Panga church's help, we'd like to see airports like Panga put into service.

Here's everyone's part:

Provide 2 people to keep the runway clear on a weekly basis. Cut the grass low (machetes and weed-wackers) and remove debris. Also, when we have a flight scheduled for their area, they would don an orange vest and direct foot traffic away from critical areas.

Provide documentation stating that the landing zone is protected and exclusive in use. Also, streamline the process for the certification process- possibly assisting in the reduction or removal of fees, or paying for the fees with their funds.

Provide periodic short term work teams for partnering with local church on airport projects and financial assistance with worker pay and equipment (lawn mower/weed wacker).

We already have a few airports in mind for the first installment of ORR. It is our hope that we soon have ceremonies to open these sites with, perhaps, local dignitaries on hand and the unveiling of a windsock and plaque.

BE A PART OF O.R.R.!!! Email me if interested-

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