Sunday afternoon Ben-David brought over the items he wanted to send to Ambassador Dansky. All the boxes were labeled and sealed as diplomatic cargo, the same as Frank’s.
The C5 crew was there going through last minute items. The cargo master loaded Frank’s and Ben’s freight and secured it. There were 20 crates of supplies and requested frozen foods – packed in dry ice – for my men at Kampala.
The fuel trucks loaded the tanks to 80%. Tomorrow morning before the plane hit the taxi way they would be filled to the brim.
The flight was leaving at 4AM; with the flight time and time changes – with good luck – we would be on the ground at Entebbe at 11PM their time. I made one phone call and told Hanna that she needed to be at Morton at 3:30.
Hanna and her camera man were going; she had expressed interest when I returned from Kampala the first time. Her station was changing its format, trying to find a niche to separate itself from the competition.
When I made the decision to bring the group, I invited her on the condition that any video needed to be approved once we were in Uganda and she could not say anything until the plane was off the ground. Hanna and Walt got the shots the next day at our Docs.
I was hoping that with Hanna along it would make good public relations piece and help donations for the next humanitarian flight.
After some intimate family time, all of us turned in early and also Vicky and I planned on sleeping on the plane after takeoff.
At 3AM Vicky and I were dressed and had plenty of help to load all the bags into the Suburban. We loaded all the fancy dresses and our jewelry and shoes. I had Rachael’s and Robin’s dress and shoes; the girls had bought them. This time since I was just visiting, I took along a couple pairs of my camo as well as the pant suits. Because of the sleeping boys, we said our goodbyes with hugs and kisses at home.
At Morton I picked out an extra armored vest for our guest along with hardware for Bob and drove to the plane. The crew was already loading their things in the plane and helped us put our things in the plane. I carried my portable office to the front where the seating was set up. The fuel truck was topping off the tanks. I stopped at the restaurant to pick up the subs I had ordered for the flight and a couple of the thermal cartons of fresh coffee.
Hanna was filming the preparation for departure – including close ups of the plane and JBG decal on the side of the fuselage – and going through a dialog for her station to use if they wanted. I let her cameraman do a sweep of the full cargo bay.
I had things done a little differently this time; there were large labels on all the food and medicines pallets with the company names that had donated them. I was pushing hard for good PR and hoped that the companies would continue support.
There was a communication link to an internet satellite that she could use to send it and I could also use it for my portable office.
Bob, Phil, Robin and Rachel were there; as soon as we boarded we could leave. The last question I asked was “Do all of you have your passports?”
Major Culpepper was there with his bags; I guess he decided to go along on this last flight.
At 4 on the nose, the pilots went full throttle on the engines; our long trek had begun. The guest, Andy and my 10 body guards, Vicky and I settled in the seating area over the cargo bay and tried to nap.
Seven hours into the flight a chime went off and the phone was blinking, “Hello.”
“We are just off the coast of Africa, the tanker is meeting up with us in less than ten minutes. I did not know if you wanted your TV lady to film out the window for a few minutes or your guest to watch; also, you need to call home,” Adam said.
All the visitors wanted a look so down the cargo bay we went and then took the ladder to the cockpit. It took some finagling to get everyone in and the camera into position; the KC135 tanker and the C5 were maneuvering into position.
The boom was already moved from its stowed position, elevated high and extended to give Adam a mark to aim for. The planes played a cat and mouse game, carefully closing until things were in place. Less than a minute later the planes were joined by the boom and fuel was flowing.
After what seemed too quick, the KC boom controller came over the radio, “That’s the 20,000 gallons you wanted; we will be waiting for the return trip. What credit card number do you want to use for this?” he asked, laughing into the mike.
“Hanna, give me your gas card,” I asked to carry the joke further. The camera was still rolling.
“How much is it going to cost? I don’t think there is a high enough limit,” she replied.
“$80,000 for the half a tank of fuel,” I replied.
“Boss, you might need to increase the limit on my gas card,” Hanna was now looking into the camera. “Hanna Page signing off close to African coast,” she said.
We went back to our seats, and I made a satellite call to the office and hooked my portable office to the internet through the communication system.
I had a list to call: Marcy, Lorrie, Eric, Kent Dalton and Victor. I started with Marcy; she had started working on the items from our meeting Friday. I listened while she related the conversations among Jenna, Robert Alderman and herself.
To add more problems into the puzzle, Jenna wanted to make another investment in the company as she had done before. The oil dome she owned in Nebraska was producing a bumper crop of natural gas as well as oil. With Marcy as her only child, she and Robert were concocting ways to get her wealth to Marcy without massive estate taxes some time in the future.
One of those ways was for the stock to be joint ownership, another was the estate exception and there were many more that were above my head.
That required an explanation of what we had done last time to Robert. This time he suggested changes that would work even better and a change in our how we generated stock.
“Marcy, it sounds like you and Lorrie have it covered; you are there – I am here. Do what you think is best,” I said.
“Call Lorrie; she is excited! The jet she was looking at is still available; she wants to talk to you,” Marcy replied before she hung up.
Just then an email with two huge files arrived from Lorrie; one was a jpg file and the other was a video file. Vicky and I were sitting side by side so we could both watch my computer.
The pictures and video were from the aircraft broker; a complete set inside and outside. It looked very nice. I called to the cockpit to see if Adam could come to the passenger area. He had pilot in command time in this type of aircraft. There was a big sign in the cockpit ‘no computers allowed.’
Adam looked at the pictures and video with us. When they finished, I asked, “Is this a good plane or a problem plane?”
“A very good plane, reliable, tough, good range and performs better than the spec sheet,” he replied.
I hit the reply tab, “I only see one thing wrong; it does not have our decals on it, YET. I assume you and Marcy have negotiated a good price for it. Take Robbie to check it out and the necessary pilots and if it looks as good as the pictures, fly it back.”
I finished the calls to Eric and Ken Dalton, the investigation was under way at MU. Thirty four people had died. Their explosive experts estimated that the two SUV’s had two thousand pounds of ANFO each; more than enough to bring down the field house.
I called Victor last.
“When are you going to be back?” Victor asked.
“Hopefully Sunday; why?” I replied.
“We have moved the wedding date up. We have decided on a small wedding with close friends in two weeks. We are going to have a small one at the church in town. Joni and Allie both wanted to make sure you could be here,” Victor replied then he added “Allie wants to tell you something; here she is.”
“Ms. BJ, I am going to have a little brother or sister! Mommy is going to have a baby. I’m so happy and so are Mommy and Daddy.”
“She has been busting at the seams to tell you. I’m sure she will tell you all the details when she sees you,” Victor said.
“Congratulations, and pass that on to Joni for me, I’m happy for the both of you. I know both of you wanted children. All of us will be at the wedding. You can count on it,” I said.
We were an hour out of Entebbe when Adam called to alert me to our position. I called the embassy at Kampala to send both Suburbans to carry us and our bags from our hangar in the general aviation area to the Kampala Hilltop Hilton Hotel where we were staying.
It was time to give the girls a safety speech and I had them all move to one area of the seats; all the ladies that went through the embassy training received the portions of the speech at various part of the training.
“We are not landing in a generally friendly country; there are areas that you will be reasonably safe. There are areas that will not be safe at all if you are by yourself. That said, do not go anywhere by yourself. Do not even go from your motel room to the ice maker by yourself.”
“I asked you to bring light long-sleeve tops and long pants and jeans. Uganda has hundreds of diverse cultures and beliefs. Women baring skin in certain areas can get you all kinds of problems. Stay with your group, don’t wander off or allow someone to shepherd you away the group.”
“Do not fall for the trap of someone knocking on the door telling you they have an emergency or you need to come with them. Do not open the door unless it is one of us; we will clearly identify ourselves,” I said.
When we taxied to our hangar, the Suburbans, the two cars Andy had bought months ago and two of the limousines were waiting. Four of Andy’s men were going to stay with the plane tonight. 18 of us made the trip to the Hilltop Hilton. It was midnight Uganda time.
I had reserved 12 double occupancy rooms on the same end of the same floor for safety and security reasons. Andy insisted that his men were to have the rooms at each end of the group. I signed for the rooms and passed out the room keys.
“Because of the jet lag and the time zone changes, sleep is going to be hard for a couple nights; go to bed and try to sleep. Breakfast is 6:30, be ready. We have a full schedule every day.”
Robin was rooming with me and Rachel with Vicky. I left it to the men to sort out who their roommates were.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.