And we are off

Wow- against the wire and in the 12th hour we were given permission to depart.

It was important that we were able to depart today. Dylan had arranged the clearances with airports all the way to Australia,along with our 5 day flight plan. These clearances are costly and can often take days to organize and acquire permissions to land – and – these clearances expire today. Because of the delays that were happening in getting our clearance from Dhaka- everyone was losing hope

Coming together to write an email

Furthermore, if the flight didn’t go today- it would have taken at least another 5 days before we could leave- government offices are closed for 2 days- and flight clearances to Australia would have to start from scratch- and- our Bangladesh visas expire Sunday- and – there is a deadline to get to Australia because of the aircraft

So – with all this riding- there was one more attempt to plead MAFs case and at 4 pm( office hours close at 3) verbal permission was granted to depart!

Permission granted and the aircraft being fueled for the last time in Dhaka

Phew- it reminded me of a Dhaka traffic jam – they are remarkable- those traffic jams – buses and rickshaws and trucks all coming together in all directions- it is seemingly impossible that it will resolve- and then – viola- it is clear to go!

Pulling the plane in the hangar for the last time

Despite the stress of waiting and anticipating – our extra time here was put to good use and yesterday Dylan was able to give Chad a flight ride to update his Bangladesh pilot license which was expiring ( can’t help but smile a little that Dylan from Canada was the only one who could do Chads ride for his license when Chad has been flying here for 18 years!- oh paperwork)

This was good for us as we were able to go on a beautiful flight south and experience a river water landing with Chad on his ride

For many this departure is bittersweet. This MAF base which has been operational for 20 years in Bangladesh is closing. Lives for the staff and team are changing

Raju Mondol and Chad Tilley

While waiting in the office yesterday I had some time to chat with Chad and Raju a little about their experiences. These 2 men have flown a lot of hours together for MAF. They spoke of landing in rivers in storms and Raju on the float navigating the aircraft in the wind and waves – the time they flew Princess Anne and the whole international airport was closed for them as they taxied out – the heart wrenching time as first responders for a massive cyclone that hit and witnessing the devastation and loss and grief of the survivors.

As the only aircraft on floats in Bangladesh- MAF has had a visible and practical presence in this country of so so so many rivers

This departure marks the beginning of an end of an era

Our flight today is from Dhaka to Yangon, Myanmar and then a leg to Hat Yai Thailand. Tomorrow I will post some pictures of that journey

One thought on “And we are off

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