Yannick Belley, Bush Pilot, has returned to Quebec after having spent ten months piloting a 206 Cessna for Avions Sans Frontières in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“Flying through storms and having to orient myself solely based on instinct and experience, without any weather forecasts, being in touch with the forces of nature, all make up the beauty of piloting in this region”, states Yannick who had never been to Africa before. According to him, it is essential to have a plane to service Dungu and the Upper Uele region. “Avions Sans Frontières is vital at all levels, whether it be to evacuate the injured, transport humanitarian staff or to promote economic development”, he adds while emphasizing the great commitment of the ASF team, which is very conscious of the plane’s importance. “Overall, the conditions were what I expected them to be”, he explains, while admitting that he missed the change of seasons. “Time is more linear over there. In Quebec, the light and smells change quite a bit, just like people’s moods”, he states while mentioning how pleasant it was to stay in the pilot house in Dungu. “Not one day is alike. You can live exceptional and magical moments, meet people from all over the world, but also experience intense solitude”, adds Yannick. From up in the sky, Yannick Belley does not understand that a country so rich in resources such as the Democratic Republic of Congo could be so poor. “There are many mines around a city like Bunia but there is no electricity”, he remarks while stressing the need to promote basic development. He mentions that the end of the war, which lasted several years due to the acts of violence committed by the Lord Resistance Army (LRA), led to the departure of many NGOs, which focused on humanitarian crises management. “But these were not replaced by NGOs which could help in terms of sustainable development”, he says, while listing health, safety, dignity and respect for workers as life conditions that must be improved upon. This is the reason Yannick Bellay is not closing the door on a possible return to Dungu, possibly as a substitute pilot for the 206 Cessna. And why not also to do development work “by building bridges, by creating a wave, by bringing people over, by using the DRC’s context with expertise from Quebec”, he adds. “Once in a while, I had to step out of the aviation world during my stay. So, I tried to plant ideas so that, in turn, others could plant them, so that new ideas could arise”.