As Requested, I am the pilot who crashed in the African bush last week. I volunteer as an emergency/clinic-outreach bush pilot in Tanzania. AMA
Well guys, I've been at this for 7 hours and I think it's time to wrap it up. An AMA is about asking and answering questions.. not about donations.. but you helped raise $2300 and the FMS team couldn't be more grateful. It's late and raining.. So I'm going to bed. From the bottom our hearts, Thank you!
Edit: Anyone with advice on how we might further try to get the word out about the IndieGoGo page.. please PM me. I'm new to fund-raising. tx
The purpose of this AMA
Hi, yesterday I was asked to do this AMA as a Pilot who crashed a plane in the African bush, you can see the resulting carnage, HERE. I'm here to answer questions, not only about the incident (story is below), but about the work that the Flying Medical Service team does. About being a volunteer bush pilot in the Serengeti, about the medicine, the stories, & the Maasai people we service. You can check out these photos of the good work they do
Otherwise, I'll try to answer as many questions as I can (just understand that power & internet are very unreliable here.. we have rolling blackouts). So if I stop answering for a bit, I'll be back and will post here when I'm actually finishing up.
Our founder is out right now finishing another clinic in a place called Ndutu with a friend's airplane, but I asked him to send a picture and say a few words. Full text is under the linked pic, but a quick abbreviation:
"I would like to thank you on behalf of the people who you will likely never see... this area is one of the most remote & spectacularly beautiful places in the world. The people who live here are are equally spectacular. But when someone is sick, and medical help is so far away, the vast distances can turn this beauty into a nightmare....Tanzania has the worst patient to doctor ratio in the world with only 1 doc for 125,000 people...That is why Flying Medical Service is here...The world gets smaller every day. We're all in this together" -Thanks A lot!
Proof: Of Me & The Non-profit status of our Organization
Aside from IndieGoGo verifying FMS as a non-profit 501c(3), Posted here is the document from the U.S. IRS department as proof.
As for me, here is a crappy cell phone pic of my airport ID
Finally, here is an independent blog post about the accident.
Before we get started, this is the story of our organization and it's mission
Flying Medical Service is a non-profit, strictly volunteer organization which provides regular preventive and curative health care, health education services, as well as air transport for medical emergencies. Based at the Arusha airport in Tanzania since 1983. FMS works to improve the quality of life throughout Tanzania regardless of religious affiliation, ethnic background, or ability to pay immediately. We mainly work in remote areas that are far from regular health care facilities.
FMS has full-time volunteer staff, most of whom are pilots and paramedics. We also have volunteer doctors and nurses on stand-by from the surrounding hospitals and clinics. The government of Tanzania has granted us important exemptions which help us to provide our services as affordably as possible for the average Tanzanian citizen.
Having treated almost 30,000 patients on clinics last year alone, FMS is a truly worthwhile cause that I have been honored to serve. If I can help my organization in any way, then the people of Tanzania will benefit as well. If you would like to learn more, take a moment and visit their website.
The story of the accident
I have been a volunteer pilot with Flying Medical Service for two years. For the majority of my time here, we have been 2 pilots & the founder. Together we perform 17 days out of the month for clinics, and we are on call for emergency flights day & night.
I want to start, though, with a quick word in apology to those few who feel I was light hearted about the incident. It was never my intention to downplay the seriousness of the situation. I truly feel terrible about all that has resulted from the accident & I'm just thankful that everyone is doing ok, back home, and recovering quickly. Now is the time for action in making things right.. but first, as promised, here's what happened:
<I was told I got too long winded with this story, and I'm sure you guys will ask me more about it.. so I've cut it down a bit. I want to be completely open, so ask away>
The crew and I had just finished packing up from a clinic at a place called Ilkiushi Oibor. After take-off It had become a common occurrence (because of the good time we have at this particular clinic) for me to give the attendees a "goodbye" flyby. I asked the crew beforehand if they would like to do it, and everyone agreed. Before the clinics, I tell them that regardless, there will be necessary low-pass maneuvers to check the runways for problems, or to chase zebras, sheep, donkeys, giraffe, etc off the strip.
On this day however, there were several changes in normal conditions (flight/weather). <Lengthy details in comments> My primary mistake was becoming too comfortable with how I flew the clinics. You do these clinics dozens of times over, and you get too familiar with how the plane reacts. This is a dangerous thing for when conditions change. Despite knowing this, and having been adjusting my flying accordingly prior, I failed to do so when it came to this maneuver.
So we took off, cleared the tree-tops, I "cleaned" up the plane, and came back around to perform the maneuver. <details of maneuver in comments> I noticed right away though that the plane wasn't responding normally and I immediately aborted the flyby and concentrated on getting us in a positive climb again. We almost made it too. My tires brushed thru the tops of the bushes as it started to climb again, but it wasn't enough to avoid the tree that caught our wing. I felt a quick downward motion and then nothing until I came to. <details of the aftermath & rescue in comments>
I'm sure you'll ask more, and I'm at your disposal. Nevertheless, in conclusion, of course this was all avoidable and I wish I could take it back. This job already carries a lot of risk without me adding on to it. These are the facts of what happened, the pictures you saw were the result, and amazingly nobody was left with life-threatening injuries. I'm not asking for forgiveness. This isn't about me... it's about helping the organization, everyone involved, and the community at large.
What I won't be responding to
Simply put, denigrating comments (unless there's a legitimate question). I don't think there is anyone out there who can beat up on me more than I already have myself, but I don't see it as being productive to engage with comments like that. Having learned much from my mistakes, all I can do is humbly apologize and focus on taking action to help make up for it.
*EDITED TO ADD LINKS TO THE REMOVED DETAILS & PROVIDED EXTRA PROOF*