During his flight from Port Sudan to Khartoum, Sudan, James had an accident with the plane. After leaving Port Sudan around 2:00pm local time, he started having problems with the plane about one hour and twenty minutes into his journey. At 8500 feet, he suddenly heard a very loud explosion and a few seconds later began to experience all kinds of shaking, noises, vibrations, etc. As it turns out, the first cylinder on the right side of the airplane engine broke in two places, which prevented the supply AVGAS to the engine. For the next 15 minutes James flew the plane without engine, trying to coast like a bird towards the nearest flatland. He managed to find a heaven-sent road nearby to land on as he used his radio to call out for help to any other pilot in the nearby sky. Luckily James was able to contact a pilot of an aircraft flying at 37,000 feet altitude. That pilot graciously relayed the news to Khartoum air traffic controllers, along with the exact coordinates of his whereabouts, time on the ground, etc. so that a search and rescue team could be formed to go and search for him.
James had many difficulties landing in the middle of the desert, and the plane is badly damaged. For nearly an hour and a half, James did not know whether he would survive the in the desert or if he would be found. Luckily he was not injured in the crash, however he had been without water since leaving the previous airport. In the heat of the desert, dehydration can set in very quickly. Thanks to god that a local family eventually drove by and spotted him. The first thing he asked for was water to drink. The family graciously offered him water and contacted the managers of the local Hassai goldmine.
In less than an hour, a team of thirty people arrived to help James. One of those people was a very honorable man, Mr. Denis Baillargeon (see our post ‘acknowledgements and pictures from Sudan’ for more information on the generosity of this very kind man). Along with the group of managers from Hassai, there were security people, mine workers and police who accompanied them. With a team that large, the plane was able to be secured fairly quickly and the police began their investigation immediately. Three security personnel offered to guard our baby plane for the next three days during the police investigation. During the heat and desert conditions, our plane was safe and secure as Mr. Baillargeon took James under his care, brought him back to Hassai mine and offered him food, water, a place to stay, etc. Please see our future posts about the further hospitality that this esteemed man offered our dear James.