Last week pilot Jono Pound made the first landing at a brand new airstrip in the village of Torpuot on the banks of the Sobat River.
(Photos by Jonathon Pound)
The airstrip was built to give access for Every Village to the remote community where the mission has a base to deliver it's mission of building a nation for Christ, through the provision of clean, safe drinking water, healthy churches and gospel radio.
After dropping his load of building supplies at Mandeng on the opposite bank of the river, Pilot Jono overflew the strip at different altitudes before a final wheels pass to test the surface of the strip. On the next circuit, Jono brought the plane safely into land.
‘It was a bumpy landing due to the surface of the strip which is black cotton soil. The airstrip is located near swampy ground very close to the river, and there was water in the drains at the side of the runway, so I did a few extra over-passes to make sure it was safe before landing. First landings are always carried out without passengers,’ Jono explains.
This year, we hope to begin some of our ministries, including radio ministries, water wells, and sharing the Jesus Film with people in the local community. Daniel Lual
‘I’ve flown many times for Every Village bringing passengers and ministry tools like the small blue radios which receive their radio channels, but landing at a brand new airstrip was quite an experience!’ Jono says.
Safely on the ground, Jono enjoyed the welcome from the local community as many people came out to celebrate the first landing. Amongst the welcoming committee were mission colleagues from Every Village and the chief of the local area.
Jono carried out an airstrip assessment as part of the commissioning process. ‘The surface of the black Cotton soil airstrip dries to form an extremely hard crust with a softer layer underneath. I tested the surface every 100 meters with an instrument called a penetrometer . I also measured the length of the 800m strip with a measuring wheel. Finally, I measured the slope of the strip using an inclinometer so we had an accurate measurement of the airstrip characteristics. I advised that the surface of the strip could be improved by dragging a piece of wood across the airstrip.
A week later, and the first Torpuot passengers boarded the plane in Kajjansi and Juba. Danuel Lual Kuot, Radio Director for Every Village was happy to be flying in with MAF Uganda Pilot Dave Forney.
‘We are happy that MAF South Sudan has opened Torpuot airstrip and given good recommendations so that MAF Uganda can fly us in today. Before the airstrip was opened we would land in Mandeng and jump on the boat but having an airstrip in Torpuot is much more convenient. It’s a good thing to be able to land in Torpuot,’ Daniel says.
Every Village previously worked in nearby Nasir, but had to withdraw when fighting ravaged the area in 2014. The new Every Village ministry location was established last year to allow them to relaunch their ministry in the area, Daniel explains.
Daniel shares his hopes for the Torpuot Ministry at the beginning of 2024. ‘This year, we hope to begin some of our ministries including radio ministries, water wells, and sharing the Jesus Film with people in the local community. The next step will be to establish a ministry team in that location. There will be a lot of things going on in 2024,’ he says.
It was a bumpy landing due to the surface of the strip which is black cotton soil