Thursday 07 March 2013 Updated: 07/03 16:06
AN AFRICAN-BORN author has taken his love of flying to new heights after jetting out to Mozambique to help bring emergency aid to thousands of villagers left stranded by last month's devastating floods.
Part-time pilot Clive Langmead, from Malvern, spent ten days volunteering with Wings Like Eagles on board the charity's B206 Jetranger helicopter in the flood-prone Limpopo valley.
Stocked up with maize, rice, oil and other provisions the 60-year-old former BBC producer, fellow pilot Andrew Shipton and a local translator Sergio Ido headed out to isolated communities where they received a hero's welcome from hungry villagers.
They were also joined by high-ranking Government ministers, members of the World Bank which provided much of the food, as well as engineers and surveyors who were able to assess the extent of the disaster from the air.
The floods are believed to have claimed about 100 lives as well as bringing widespread disruption to 200,000 people whose homes nestle near the banks of Africa's second largest river the Limpopo.
Mr Langmead, who is a trustee of the helicopter relief charity, said he was shocked at the extent of the devastation but overwhelmed at the response of villagers to their aid effort.
"The rains had caused devastating flooding along the Limpopo valley, with many serious problems," Mr Langmead said.
"Bridges were washed away, villages were turned into islands and roads just led into lakes which had been flourishing fields just the week before. Everyone wanted to shake our hand when we arrived. They were just so delighted to see us - they didn't stop smiling and laughing and thought it was wonderful."
For Mr Langmead their aid work in Mozambique was the answer to years of prayers to see Wings Like Eagles take off and be able to provide relief to flood victims using its own helicopter in south east Africa.
He became involved with the charity in 2006 when his old friend Adrian Nance - a retired former captain of naval ship HMS Ark Royal - sought Mr Langmead's flying expertise after sharing his vision for Wings Like Eagles.
Over the next few years the pair carried out extensive survey work in Mozambique to lay the groundwork for its launch.
But it was only in 2011 when they were unexpectedly donated a Jetranger that their involvement in frontline relief work with their own helicopter moved from vision to reality.
"It was an amazing experience. Just amazing. I was almost in tears as the work we have been doing for so long came to fruition - our first relief mission with our own helicopter," he said.
"For me it's a reminder that if you stick to your vision it will come right in the end."
To find out more about the charity Wings Like Eagles visit www.wingslikeeagles.net
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