It all began on a hot, dry weekday in a central area of the war torn Southern Sudan. The 13 year old boy as the rest of his school mates were all very excited. Not only had classes been suspended for the day but the much talked about relief plane was finally coming to their bush airstrip. This event was as always a bedlam of happy times for the whole village as most of the community including , elders, teachers and NGO relief workers all gathered at the airstrip happily greeting each other, chatting loudly and discussing issues of the day. The 13 year old would remain cleverly, inconspicuous at eves drop distance, to hear and to listen as to what was going on. Names of far of places as Lokichoggio, Kakuma alongside words such as south west, north, tail wind, head wind etc were often mentioned. The continued chatter from the grown ups only added fuel to his young imagination and confirmed his desire to reach for and touch the sky.
The exact time of the arrival of the flight was at most times not known and so the day would draw into the hot afternoon as people anxiously waited. Finally someone in the crowd would spot the little speck in the sky and announce loudly as he pointed “there, up there, there it is, can you see it?’’ and all eyes would focus on the dot in the sky that would gradually and slowly grow bigger and bigger as it came closer and closer. It would finally descend as if out of heaven a large shiny metal bird that would glisten in the sun as it gracefully touched down raising a huge dust storm with its engines screaming. The aircraft would slow down as it approached, and almost humbly come to halt close to where the crowd had gathered.
The excitement level now very high as doors opened, as always the aircraft was not here to stay on ground for long. It had to be offloaded and prepared for take of in a matter of tens of minutes, as this was ongoing the elders would be earnestly discussing with the pilots who would finally succumb to their please “2hrs 15min” the boy heard the pilot shout to the NGO official as he kindly agreed to medevac some of the serous medical cases in the village back to Lokichoggio where they would have a chance to proper treatment in Kakuma. The young boy observed the sheer happiness and joy in the whole community as a mother and her young daughter who had suffered for days from the excruciating painful puff adder bite, alongside the other cases were being carefully but hurriedly carried and put on board the aircraft to be medevac’d. This all brought great relief to the whole village and also brought the days events to an end. The engines started to turn faster and faster then began to scream as the aircraft rolled down the runway gaining speed and finally lifting off ascending, disappearing as a speck back into the heavens just as it had come.
As the crowd began to disperse and the arrival of the cool evening breeze ushering in the dusk, almost blessing the surface of the dusty air strip with its cool touch, the young boy stood alone in the middle of the runway continuously glaring at the sky as if searching for the speck. He was in fact reflecting quietly on the events of the day. The immense happiness and relief he had just witnessed the metal bird bring, the impact that it would have on his village for days to come. More important for him in his quiet reflection was the lesson of the day, the lesson that taught him that day that the aircraft was heading “south west” to where these places “Lokichoggio and Kakuma” were and that the plane would take because of the “head wind” 2hrs and 15min an extra 10mins “flying time” to get there, there so far far away. It was at that moment the young Michael Mading Gabriel knew that he had found the way. In order to have a positive impact on his village, his community, his people he would one day have to venture in this thing he heard them call “aviation” after all he had already began to understand the basics.
It is now 2017, more than 20 years later, much has happened since, South Sudan gained its hard fought freedom and became an independent nation. Michael had finally made his journey to Lokichoggio, Kakuma refugee camp, Nairobi and beyond to America where he finalized his studies by graduating University and returned home to follow his child hood ambition. After a short stint with the cooperate world he ventured into aviation and registered Eagle Enterprise (Aviation Division) based at Juba International Airport and Eagle Enterprise head office (Logistics and Supplies Division) at the Dream Down Town Mall JCBD.
Today Eagle Enterprise proudly stands head and shoulders above its competitors offering similar air services and remote service support with a fleet of two Antanov AN 74, AN28 AN 32 and a LET 410. The unique combination of experience, service, and credibility allows it to provide air services that offer a high degree of reliability while remaining cost-effective and efficient. It has in its three years of operations flown incident free more than 2,000 rotations to various bush airstrips not only in South Sudan but to destinations in the region to countries like Congo, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Sudan and Uganda.
It proudly boasts of long term patronage clientele list of agencies that include UN organizations, WFP, IOM, UNHCR, Non-Governmental Organization include Mercy Corp, International Rescue Committee (IRC), CordAid, among others and multi co operates such as Dar Petroleum.