Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cape Town to Goodwood Day 18: Are We At The Equator Yet?

Old tower at Entebbe
A few years ago, Roy Watson from Johannesburg Light Plane Club was flying into Entebbe, the main airport for Uganda, though not so in the time of Lady Heath who landed at nearby Jinja.
Entebbe, just north of the equator, is now best known for "Operation Thunderbolt", the dramatic rescue on 4 July 1976 by Israeli commandos of 102 hostages. Short version of story: these were kidnapped by two groups of  pro Palestine rebels after the hijack of an Air France flight AF139 from Tel Aviv to Paris with the (seeming) approval of then president Idi Amin. All the hijackers, three hostages and 45 Ugandan soldiers were killed in the rescue operation. At least three films were made about the raid.
The terminal building from that time, pockmarked with shell holes still existed  when Roy Watson landed there. "I could not believe what I was seeing. Clips from the film came rushing through my mind and I felt I was in the middle of the raid itself."
Also still intact were a number of derelict hangars, with elderly vehicles and helicopters peeping through half open doors.  Other old aircraft were left to rust in the bush around the airport, including a Boeing 707 and Caravelle shot to pieces during the Entebbe raid.
"Seemingly, they had just been towed away and dumped," says Roy in his entertaining memoir  "Bush Pilots Do It In Fours".
We look forward to finding out whether anything has changed….
Lady Heath's route  to Cairo-
Mar 5 -Abercorn (Mbala), Zambia
Mar 7 - Tabora,Tanzania
Mar 8 - Mwanza, Tanzania
Mar 14 - Nairobi, Kenya
Mar 22 - Jinja, Uganda, via Kisumu, Kenya
Mar 28 - Mongalla, South Sudan
Mar 30 - Kosti in the Sudan via  Malakal, South Sudan
Mar 31 - Khartoum, Sudan
Apr 2 - Atbara, Sudan
Apr 3 - Wadi Halfa, Sudan
Apr 4 - Cairo, Egypt

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