Yannick Belley, a young 34-years old pilot from Montmagny, has decided to take off on a wonderful humanitarian adventure with Avions Sans Frontières (ASF). On June 6, he arrived in Dungu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to replace Guy Couture and to take the controls of ASF’s Cessna.
“I always dreamt of flying. It was always a conviction, a vocation even,” affirms Yannik, who made his debut in parachuting and aerial photography. “This enabled me to experience sandy runways, which will be useful in Africa,” explains Yannick while mentioning that the idea to join ASF started in 2007 after a discussion with Stephan Bihan, an ASF pilot from 2007-2008. “I’m not the most experienced guy when it comes to travel. I did a short humanitarian trip to Brazil and I went to Istanbul on an organized trip. But I am curious of other cultures, and I have a deep-rooted calling to go see what’s out there and to leave Quebec,” states Yannick, who will be stationed in Dungu for a year. “My mother is extremely worried but my dad is elated,” he says laughing. “I feel like a tool on two legs. I’m curious and I want to be a pilot. I don’t think I fully realize the human dimension of the work I will be doing but I know that I will be touched by the people I work with,” he adds, while stating that this experience comes from a willingness to acquire new skills and to become a better person. The new ASF pilot confides that his aviation heroes are airmail pilots such as St-Exupéry and Mermoz. “These individuals met various people with a cultural fascination experienced from above, which was very romantic. They nurtured goodness to then pass it on to others.”
ASF’s Essential Contribution
ASF’s Cessna 206 has become an essential development tool in the region of Upper Uele in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is a flagship project for Terre Sans Frontières since it opens up the entire region to ensure the transport of people as well as essential goods, namely the sick and seriously injured who cannot be treated in bush clinics and must be evacuated to referral hospitals. In fact, over the past year, 50% of the cargo transported and hours flown have been in support of the health sector, medical emergencies and humanitarian aid.