General Director Achmed Bajouri of the Sudan Civil Aviation Authority, with Johan and the Moth.
Three days ago, on 21 September, I landed in Dongola in northern Sudan. Situated on the banks of the Nile, Dongola is in the middle of the Nubian Desert, which stretches from northern Sudan into southern Egypt.
Everyone here speaks Arabic of course, but I am told that if you are original Nubian, you use a language which is only spoken, not written. Correct me if I am wrong…
I had a very pleasant and very kind reception here and at the airport the Ministry of Tourism was there to meet me. Mr Hassan had been contacted much earlier via the Sudanese Embassy in Stockholm, so Dongola was actually expecting me!
I was given a guided tour through the administrative offices and we took a long walk in an agricultural landscape and along the Nile. Dongola is a very small town – more like a village. Everybody seems to know everyone here. I was given a room at big hotel of perhaps 4 floors, but it seemed like I was the only guest! Mr Hassan also joined me for my early dinner. In Sudan and Egypt people eat around ten in the evening, when the heat has eased a bit.
This area has some interesting remains from ancient Nubian civilization, including tops of pyramids that are barely visible above the sand. Archaeological excavations are in progress here. It seems that Sudan has largest number of pyramids of any country in the world. Not the biggest, but the most.
On Friday morning we went through a now-familiar procedure – buying fuel at the local petrol station. The octane level is around 92. The price: USD 70 cents a liter, saving me some money after having paid a staggering USD 5.30/liter in Egypt for aviation fuel.
Upon arriving at the airplane, I was dismayed to find both batteries dead. Mr Hassan still out on the second fuel run, so I called him and asked him to find and buy a dry-cell motorcycle battery. I had a lot of spectators when I wired up the new battery, which almost fit in the battery box. To be honest I’m a bit surprised it went so well.
Then I was off, bound for Khartoum. The flight began without incident, except that the forecast tailwind turned out to be more of a slight headwind. Weather reports here don’t seem to be that accurate…Close to Kharthoum it became very hot and dusty, and the horizon became hazy. Moderate turbulence set in and continued until I landed an hour later.
Flying north of Khartoum, in fine, dense dust that made it difficult to keep a frame of reference and keep the wings level.
I could barely make out the terrain below.
I had to pick up a hold 30 miles out but then I got a direct final. I think ATC misjudged my low ground speed, which was much slower than that of an Airbus that was gaining on me from behind. In the end I landed but the Airbus had to pull up, miss its approach and come around again. Not really my fault, but I still felt sorry for the Airbus!
I parked in front of an open hangar. Then I was heartily welcomed by none other than the general director of Sudan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the manager of Air Transport. My ground agent wondered afterwards how I had managed to arrange it. He said, “I have never seen that before!” Hangar space was kindly offered to me by the owner, a retired Sudanese airline captain.
Throughout Sudan, I keep getting a great reception and assistance. The Sudanese people continue to impress me with their kind and gentle way. In a some sense it is difficult for me to understand the many conflicts that Sudan has suffered.