|Dates:||11 Feb 2011 - 6 Apr 2011|
|Duration:||1 month, 3 weeks|
Arrived at our start point. Here for 3 days to meet all the other participants and have a full briefing as to what lies ahead for us all. A large adventure to be sure
Stayed 3 nights and met up with another couple on the tour. Nice hotel and reasonable restaurants before onwards to start point
Refuelling on the way to Corfu Ground staff refused to acknowledge any English whatsoever - or any other language that we tried - but eventually realised that we needed to go in their car to deal with all paperwork on the other side of the airfield. No restaurant or snacks available
Ist night en route - difficult to get ATC to tell us where to park - so we self-parked and immediately got the local aero club come out and tell us to move it about 5 feet and 90 degrees for some obscure reason! Aero club very helpful in forward planning, and very interested in our proposed tour. One member drove us to our local hotel
Another refuelling stop - nice easy airport with very helpful staff
First stop for refuelling
Home at last. Excellent flight all the way from Ibiza with a nice tailwind and only 50 miles around Tours where there was any cloud at all. Thank you for your comments and encouragement via the comments box and emails - it was great to get them. I tried to make it informative, interesting, and with a little bit of humour. Martin and a very tolerant Annette!
Half way home, stopping for fuel at Limoges. Toulouse loses our flight plan and delays us for an hour!
Forced to file IFR from Algiers to Spanish IFR boundary, (which could then be converted to VFR at the boundary if we wished) but we were not given a slot time to work on - consequently 4 of the 6 of us missed our slot - which for IFR flights are issued by Brussels Eurocontrol - and had to wait twiddling our thumbs by the aircraft for an hour and a half for a new slot time to be issued. Easy flight @ FL080 to re-enter Europe. Farewell dinner at tour end in Ibiza. Weather looks good for Friday, so we hope to make it home tomorrow.
Back into Europe
Out of Africa
Due to leave El Golea for Algiers. Adam had a ghastly night with suspected Salmonella from eggs the night before, so unable to perform as Sam's right hand man. Sam left early as P2 in Archer to get to Algiers for paperwork; two others left also, but Mooney now has a very soggy mainwheel tyre which won't stay at full pressure. Helmut and us stay to assist removal of wheel and repair in town which was remarkably quick and cost just 1 Euro!! Anglo/German repair team has it back on and ready to roll in quick order and we leave just 21/2 hours behind the others. I am now tail-end Charlie and get a text from Sam after a couple of hours flying to say weather bad 50 miles short of Algiers, they had diverted and needed us there with our spare cans of fuel to allow them to get back to Algiers. I elected to go direct to Algiers as the can I was carrying would only have been enough for me to top up and would have been no use to others. Dodged heavy storms and after relays from Algerian airliners, finally made contact at 25 miles. During long taxi to parking, guess what - my starboard tyre burst, and I was immovable in the very middle of the airliners taxiway!! Very grumpy official asked why was I in Algeria, did I have permission, what was my clearance No: had I got a spare wheel and a jack etc. etc. I had no info: as Sam was at diversion. Eventually all very efficient and wheel off and repaired and taxied to parking to join others who had come in 1/2 hour earlier. Would you believe I was the ONLY aircraft to carry a spare tube and my engineer had put TWO in my spares kit. One I gave to the Mooney, and one I used myself - and they were the correct size for both of us. THANKS DAVID! Sick after arrival (and during flight) and couldn't enjoy very nice hotel - what a bummer! Europe tomorrow!
El Golea, a town with very basic facilities - particularly the hotel we stayed in! Mooney had a burst nosewheel tyre while backtracking, attended to by fire crew - so runway changed for the rest of us and Archer taxied onto "works in progress' on backtracking and got stuck in gooey wet tar and had to be towed out by fire crew: a busy day for them - probably the greatest excitement of their year! Archer passenger has had enough and is going home commercially.
Refuelling at In Salah on the way to Al Golea in Algeria.
Panic stations - no plane keys to be seen! Found on return to the airfield still in the baggage hatch lock which I had had to re-open to get the spare 25 litre fuel can out the day before. Left the boutique style, and most attractive lodgings early to time our arrival at Tamanrasset in Algeria before the 'tempo 12z-18z blowing drifting sand' forecast. It was like flying in a goldfish bowl with zero visibility except upwards - totally IMC until 50 miles out when it cleared gradually to 10 km viz: at the airfield. Spot on 12z the sand started blowing although it would not have impeded our arrival. Arrived at our camp for the night which was very simple, with the loos and showers across the courtyard from the bedrooms, and half the team freaked out and said it wasn't good enough and insisted on going to an alternative hotel in town which was very embarrassing for Sam and very rude to our hostess. Ended up with a traditional family meal sitting cross-legged at very low tables on a carpet under the stars - wonderful.
Kano to Agadez in Niger today- but forecast at Agadez was 2000 metres in blowing dust. Sam decided to take off with Helmut (IFR capable) to go and see conditions for himself and report back to Adam who was detailed to be my passenger (Annette separated from me yet again - but this time I kept back my hairbrush and toothbrush 'just in case'). The report was still 2000 metres RVR, but we were all a bit blasé about IFR flying by now, so we had a 100% vote to go. Visibility non-existent forwards and very poor vertically even at FL085, but GPS is a great bit of kit - taking us right to the threshold of a very long runway. That's 6.25 hours IMC logged in two flights! A delightful little hotel - rather biblical in appearance amongst all the local shacks which were all made out of mud, with everything which worked, which was indeed a welcome change. Algeria tomorrow, with a forecast of blowing, drifting sand - but do we care? Certainly not!
A seriously unpleasant flight for 4 hours with turbulence, almost non-existent visibility and extreme heat terminating in a full ILS at Kano, Northern Nigeria. All parked as requested by the marshaller and refuelled, and as we walked to the terminal, one official said we couldn't leave the planes 'there' as they would be in the way of something or other, despite the fact we would be away by 9 am in the morning. All the others grumpily pushed their planes a couple of hundred yards to comply, but I have to say I was very hot and sweaty and grumpy and couldn't see what the issue was on an apron which was virtually empty and covered maybe 15 acres, GOSL was locked, chocked and covered, so I walked away and left her looking very lonely all on her own in the middle of this vast empty apron.
Nigeria - a country teeming with around 175 million people (1/2 billion projected by 2032)- more than all of the other countries in West Africa added together. Port Harcourt ATC were extremely busy with non-stop chat from 100 miles out and vectored us all round the edge of their CTR to efficiently slot in with their other traffic. Fuel was waiting for us on the apron as soon as we arrived and we thought we were going to get through the airport fairly painlessly - until they took our passports which they checked for over an hour and a half. We had an armed escort with us for the journey to the hotel (a bit OTT), which only encouraged our police driver to behave like a frustrated formula 1 driver, elbowing everyone out of the way with horn and lights and taking no prisoners whatever - either cars or pedestrians - by mostly driving on the wrong side of the road flat out. We really did fear for our survival, and told him so. The soldier just sat impassively in the front seat, either in fear or resignation!
Having just settled in at the Bom Bom resort for 2 nights, we were told that we would be leaving after lunch as there was likely to be bad weather approaching tomorrow, and we have complicated things like entry clearances to different countries that run out of time. Somehow it seemed a bit unfair for those of us that had been stuck in Port-Gentil waiting for fuel for 3 days! Took off for Port Harcourt in Nigeria 200 miles away across the last bit of sea until our last day of the trip next week to get to Ibiza.
160 miles to Principe, the smallest of the African countries, comprising just the two islands of Sao Tome and Principe. Informed by the controller on Sao Tome that there was a power failure at the airfield at Principe and that we should land non-radio (and this was an Airport of Entry!) Overflew the one and only resort of Bom Bom on long finals, a name which highly amused Helmut the German for it's vulgar connotations in Germany! Finally reunited with Annette - cuddles all round!
Another boring day waiting for news of fuel. 10 am arrived with the news that it had arrived on Libreville and had been transferred to the 'speedboat', but then (surprise, surprise) the boat driver remembered that he hadn't got any fuel for the boat and (surprise, surprise) he hadn't got any money to buy any! You couldn't make this up, could you? By 2 pm the boat had made the 80 mile sea crossing - a very small boat greatly overloaded with 3 x 200 litre drums of precious avgas and the only way of unloading them was to throw them into the sea and float them ashore! Anyway we now have our fuel, everyone topped up in short order and off to Principe and back into the Northern hemisphere.
9 am - as you may imagine - came and went. Word came through at 10 am that the fuel had not even arrived in Libreville, because the driver had been prevented from moving a dangerous cargo at night! The excuses - or lies - are becoming ever more bizarre, while we become ever more bored, brassed off and resigned to another wasted day. The latest deadline is 3 pm (which is as I write this) and we have no news. So, watch this space. My latest idea is that he hires a Cessna Caravan and flies us out to Principe to join the others while he waits here in Port Gentil until he sees the fuel with his own eyes......I wonder! The picture shows the "log park" along the shore line by the hotel. Logging is Gabon's biggest industry with 2 million cubic metres of logs used/exported every year - than's another damn great hole in afforestation in the world. Their 2nd biggest industry is a manganese mine that they opened up 2 years ago and they transport the ore to the coast 125 km away on a conveyor. That's a he'll of a long rubber band! Another night without a cuddle!!
Fuel should arrive in port after breakfast, so decision to send turbine Cessna (jet fuel) and kit plane (mogas) off to Principe first thing and remainder to follow after refuelling midmorning. Sam wanted to stay behind with us to keep tabs on the fuel, so Annette volunteered to go in the turbine and Sam would be with me. Our 10 am became 11 am so we took a tour round the peninsular meeting some fishermen using long nets. Sam called us to the airport at 12 am to tell us that the fuel was stuck at the border as the driver hadn't got a visa - now there's a surprise - and we would not be going till tomorrow. One of the biggest truisms about travelling is 'never be separated from your luggage', and Annette has got ALL of our luggage in one country while I am in another with absolutely nothing - not even a toothbrush! Spent the afternoon sussing out a better hotel getting hotter & grumpier, finally finding a very expensive (but poorly equipped) one with a/c & WiFi. Slumped into a bath but then discovered there were no towels, so there I was standing in the middle of the room in an ever-growing puddle wearing nothing but the clothes I was born with, wondering how to get dry. I tried standing under the a/c unit but that got too cold, so I took the blanket of the bed and used that! Found my only spare shirt and pair of trousers (which Annette left with me to put on the plane as unwanted luggage) has had a half opened bottle of orange leak all over them - grrrrr! No cuddles tonight! Sam texted us to say the fuel was approaching Libreville and he had hired a speedboat to get it to Port Gentil by 9 am........oh yeah?!
Mooney went off for test flight before breakfast and new link broke after one retraction so Vorspring not so very Tecknik after all. Made up another out of steel and repaired original to have a spare & after 3 hours in hot sun, and testing retraction on jacks, the German engineer and British farmer agreed it was now serviceable. Flew for 2 1/2 hours to Pont Gentil in the Gabon skirting round some evil dark looking areas, to hear soon after our arrival that a cargo plane had crashed into the suburbs of Pointe Noire on approach to land very soon after we had left there. Evening in hotel with traditional Gabonese dancers with whom we joined in. Our fuel not in Porte Gentil - still on the high seas....!
Left Cabinda for the 50 mile flight into Pointe Noire - incurring the wrath of the French crew when I overtook them 9 miles out and they reckoned I cut them up in the circuit - that has to be a damn great circuit in anyones book! Very hot and humid on arrival and spent the evening as guests of the aero club before falling into bed soon after 9 pm - probably the most comfy bed we have had on the whole trip - yup, here in the Congo! Helmut, our German member, who has an engineering background, spent a couple of hours cutting, grinding, filing and drilling some scrap metal he found to manufacture a new undercarriage gear door strut for the Mooney - hardly CAA approved, but when needs must.....! We shall see how it works when we take off for our 320 mile flight to Port Gentile in the Gabon tomorrow.
Bucketed with rain all night flooding most of the streets with their non-existing drainage system. The Mooney, always the fastest, had the ignominy of being the slowest on this flight out of Sumbe as it had a problem with the linkage on its gear doors meaning it had to fly 40 knots slower than normal with its gear down. Some welding rods and a packet of chewing gum should see it right again tonight. 3 hour flight to Cabinda airport - for a short while at FL115 to get over some towering cumulus which gradually dissipated as our track took us out over the sea. This is a refuelling stop before onwards out of Angolla to Pointe Noire in the Congo this afternoon.
A no-fly day. We enjoyed a taste of the real Angola by taking an all day drive with a guide who showed us impressive waterfalls and village life and ended up at an abandoned coffee plantation which in it's day was the largest in the world and the pride of Angola, but when the war began in the 1960's was abandoned almost overnight in the face of terrorism. Drove though many villages and along very rough roads and no matter how far from anywhere we were there was always some women walking along with something on their heads and very often small children in tow or on their backs. Work is very definitely the province of the women-folk, while all the men and boys just sit around, or drink beer, or watch football on TV or ride around on scooters (it'll never catch on at home). It appeared a good proportion of the girls were either carrying young babies, or were 'heavy with child', so the men obviously weren't idle all the time! Tomorrow the Congo.
A delayed departure from the hotel at Lubango due to heavy rain and low cloud for a couple of hours allowed much overdue catching up of paperwork for me and a sea of computers beavering away by the others making it look for all the world like an Internet Cafe! 2 1/2 hours took us to Sumbe, a small town further North in Angola who, despite being in the planning loop for over 6 months and a flight plan submitted 4 hours earlier, were blissfully unaware of, and extremely surprised by, the sudden arrival of 6 light aircraft! When they did swing into action there were dozens of uniformed people around all doing very little except giving us more and more forms to fill in - the ultimate insult being getting the first batch of pilots to come back to the airfield 'cos they wanted to see all the original plane documentation - so we all went back and uncovered and unlocked our planes to retrieve said documents but instead of looking at any of them they just gave us yet another pointless form to fill in. At the moment they are well up there for the award for the African airfield with the most futile bureaucracy! There was a stonking crosswind with a lot of turbulence on short finals from close by hills which resulted in 3 of the 6 of us having to go around and one other just managing to stop with locked wheels before the bunker at the end! I was one of those that went around which severely dented my pride - but I can report that I am a live coward rather than a dead hero! Oh, and the drums of fuel are said to be 'on their way'!.......
Routed over the Angolan border via the Ruacana waterfall which was in heavy spate, and then across inhospitable landscape rising to a 6000' plateau on which Lubango airfield sat, and to the surprise of some, our barrels of fuel were waiting! Drove to the edge of the plateau up poorly maintained sandy road, getting stuck twice, but the view from the top would equal that over the Grand Canyon. A 5000' sheer drop to the valley below - the rain & cloud cover obligingly clearing as we arrived. From here we went to the other end of the plateau to see Angola's most famous road, that snaked down to the same valley 5000' below through a continuous series of 180* & 270* corkscrewing turns. We had a view for about one minute before the cloud unobligingly suddenly obscured it all. One can only wonder at the difficulty of driving heavily loaded artics up from the valley below to supply the towns at the top. It was dark on the way back and we were sure that our (not very bright) driver had an expired night rating!
Woke to heavy rain which luckily dissipated before we were due to leave after breakfast. Flew the short 80 mile leg to Ondongwa airport, dodging a heavy band of showers mid-way, to exit Namibia. This will be last time we refuel normally until we get to Algiers in a fortnight's time. Meanwhile it will all be out of drums and desperately hoping it will be waiting for us and not have been nicked and sold in the meantime on the Black Market!
After flying for 2 1/2 hours NE across Namibia over initially very beautiful countryside, and then with much more vegetation giving few options for a forced landing, we arrived at Motuki Lodge airstrip on the edge of the Etosha Salt Pan - a large flat area of pure white salt, hard enough to land a plane on. Mushara Lodge game park was our resting place for the night - a lodge that only yesterday completed an extensive refurbishment, with us being the first customers of the year. A spitting cobra lurking in the garden rather disturbed my composure and I vaguely wonder if it might visit our bedroom during the night, as our room is between the garden and the perimeter fence..... Went for an afternoon game drive, and after dinner all the staff gave us an African sing-song round our table. Tomorrow Angola.
Refuelling at Keepmanshoop was surprisingly efficient with payment by C/C - except that all the phone lines were down in the area and consequently all our cards were declined. There was an impasse for an hour till I said it really wasn't our problem that we couldn't pay and they would have to send the invoice on to us. He couldn't phone his boss (phone lines down) so we lent him our mobile to make the call. It was amazing how quickly the boss was able to process the cards over the phone when we said we were all going to push off (even though ALL the phone lines were supposed to be down!) On start up my oil pressure read normal again confirming a temporary gauge fault, and 2 1/2 hours later across the most stunning scenery, we arrived at Swakopmund near Walvis Bay on the Namibiam West coast, having incurred the wrath of Windhoek control area by not talking to them as we pootled across Namibia at 8500' (Whoops! big slap on the wrist there). Finally the team are all together again for the first time since Zanzibar, and more important, we have our leader back in charge!
Very efficient handling agent whizzed us through all the formalities at Cape Town and we were airborne at 7.15. During engine checks GOSL showed very low oil pressure edging into the red - decision time. Carry on, or return to Cape Town (or Stellenbosch) where there were known engineering facilities. In an earlier life she had suffered an unexplained loss of indicated pressure (as had another Robin that I know about) which was caused by a bad earth with the sender on the firewall. I decided to continue whilst watching everything like a hawk - the pressure needle remained against the red, but the temperature never rose one jot. As the minutes ticked away I became more convinced it was a gauge error rather than an engine problem. She ran as sweet as a nut for 4 hours into Keepmanshoop airfield - entry point for Namibia - but I lost count of the number of times I pushed the 'nearest airfield' button to keep my options in sight - to say nothing of roads and flat open spaces!
Repositioning to Cape Town International from Stellenbosch ready for our start Northbound to Namibia tomorrow.
Set off to see some friends at 9am and tried to get out of the side turning from the hotel to the main road. We were confronted by a road full of racing cyclists as far as the eye could see. After a couple of minutes vainly waiting for a gap, a pedestrian came across and said didn't we know that all the main roads on the peninsula were closed for most of the day - it was the day of the Cape Argus cycle race, the biggest and best-organised cycle road race in the world (and we had unwittingly tried to join in -in the opposite direction!). There were 35,000 cyclists taking part and they were still streaming past our hotel road at 1pm. We gave up trying to see our friends and went and had an ice cream! Going to the airport tomorrow - lucky it wasn't today......
A day spent on the Cape Point peninsular and checking out the Cape of Good Hope, the most southerly point of Africa - or is it? Press 1 for 'Yes'; press 2 for 'No' and send your answers, on a postcard only please, to the Education Secretary, Whitehall.
A day in Cape Town. View of Tabletop mountain from The Waterfront
Left the wildlife camp in the morning to fly back to Stellenbosch. Climbed through layer of cloud to clear hills en route which got very solid and had to let down over the sea to break through. Came to a fresh 4* hotel in Simon's Town for our last 4 days before Northbound - a clearer example of mis-representation would be hard to imagine. It would be charitable to give it 2 stars! 2 windows facing inwards, no pool, no A/C, nowhere to sit outside, nowhere to hang anything, gappy bathroom window through which the wind whistles, and an extremely hard bed. (otherwise everything is just fine!) There are however Penguins to look at close by (see piccy) - hardly much compensation, I admit.
The White lions of Sanbona
......after avoiding deadly snakes, scorpions, and searing heat with the risk of death ever-present, we came upon this family resting under a tree after an abortive springbok chase, (by the cheetahs, not us). They were quite cuddly really and warily allowed us to watch them from no more than 12 metres for more than a quarter of an hour - magic.
......a REALLY SCARED (and mottly group) set forth into the desert to track down the wild and fearless cheetah......
Game viewing day, ending with a cheetah search on foot. Setting forth with our armed protection force.......
A rough looking gang of cowboys/girls at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve airstrip. Going searching for wild & ferocious animals tomorrow - sometimes on foot (this may be my last post....)
Ve haf ze meaz to make u enchoy eet.
Drove for a couple of hours to the Franschhoek wine growing region for an excellent lunch amongst the oak trees with some friends of ours from Essex at the Mon Plaisir restaurant on the Chamomix Wine Estate. Leaving lunch at 4.30 I couldn't get into the car and realised to my horror that I couldn't find the car keys to our hire car - and worse than that someone had put a large and very obvious scrape mark on the corner of the front bumper. Much searching on and under tables, in bags and pockets, and all around the restaurant and loos produced nothing except an increasing sense of panic. Looking around the car park, I saw Annette standing by a car with open doors and I just KNEW she must have had the keys the whole time. In fact I had spent five minutes trying to get into a strangers car while he bemusedly looked on, and my own keys I had left in the ignition - typically casual (but at least MY bumper was unmarked)! As I said it was a very good lunch.....
A 90 km drive saw us to our Misty Waves hotel in Hermanus in a hire car. As soon as we checked in I fell into bed, felt truly gruesome till 9pm when I finally fell asleep and didn't wake till 6am. Feeling better today but still can't eat anything. A good place to recover. Entries on this tracker may be a bit spasmodic until we start Northbound on the 15th. We love your comments - keep them coming!
Montezuma finally got his revenge on me after a restaurant meal last night, and and as far as I am concerned Imodium does not do what it says on the tin! With much cockpit preparation and Annette tending my needs of sickness as necessary we stopped at Mossel Bay, an almost deserted airfield with just one instructor wandering about. A couple of hours stop saw me feeling even worse so we pushed on to Stellenbosch to get to our hotel. And not before time! GOSL gets a wash and brush up ready for a trip to a game park on Monday for 3 days.
Port Alfred - fuel and overnight before the final push to Stellenbosch tomorrow where GOSL will have a well-earned service after 65 flying hours (only 4 litres of oil added)
Margate (by the sea) for refuelling. On our way to Port Alfred for the night to meet up with William & Adam with their Egg Whisk. Started at Barberton this morning by having a 30 min flight with C C in the intricacies of slow, controlled flight and landings. (bit of a doodle really!!)
Barberton airfield - home of world-renowned bush-pilot C C Pocock. Barbecue in the evening and much aviation talk. Bush flying technique and experience in GOSL tomorrow.
South Africa at last! Kruger International for fuel, customs and immigration - and two extremely anal police who wanted to check out the plane. I invited them to do it but that I was not about to help them. They started by taking the first case out and then realised that it would probably be a task too far! Very attractive and unusual thatched terminal building.
On the way from Bazaruto Island to Vilanculos to refuel. Pretty sand bars en route
Relaxing day at Bazaruto resort waiting for Sam & William to come in with the Egg Whisk. A two hour meeting with all participants to mull over Southbound journey and plan for Northbound. Swimming & sunburn. Picture shows boys with a model they made of GOSL overnight. (they made models of all the aircraft)
After collecting 130 litres in plastic cans and a couple of bladder tanks from a petrol station and blending our tanks, we set off directly over the sea, 85 miles off-shore. Engines ran faultlessly (but Cherokee left behind) and arrived Bazaruto Island resort in time for a swim and nice sunset. Helicopter due tomorrow after hiring car for 100 mile drive to pick up enough Avgas to continue to resort. Grumblings are getting worse!
Flight planned for Quelimane (3 hours) as opposed to Beira (4.5 hours) as they confirmed fuel available by phone 3 days ago. We were ahead of the pack and asked re: avgas at 45 minutes out - negative avgas- they hadn't had any for 5 years!! Nobody had enough for the final destination, so we landed anyway and went looking for a petrol station to blend with what we had left. Helicopter couldn't (injected engine), Cherokee wouldn't, and the remaining 3 aircraft did and got to the destination trouble free
As we had not enough time to go on to our refuelling stop, we stayed over at a "Dive & Beach camp overnight not far from the airport ready for an early start. Nice barbecue and campfire and huts scattered about. As we got ready for bed a scorpion scuttled across the floor - swiftly dispatched by some deft farmers footwork! - we worry about getting up for a pee in the night!
Clearances arrived at breakfast, so all aircraft went to Pemba for refuelling - Mozambique at last! Nice flight down the coast and through very heavy showers. Fees for everything - visas, immigration, customs, landing, parking, flight plans, navigation in, navigation out (navigation consisted only of "runway in use 17, cleared land" - and that was another $30). They took around $100/aircraft with a Gallic shrug! 2 South African Air Force DC3's landed while we were there
Awaiting clearance with lunch at a bar by Zanzibar airfield. Still no joy, so back to a new hotel by the beach with a very nice pool. Swam & sunbathed all afternoon then a very nice dinner on the beach.
Clearance to enter Mozambique sent from Min of Defence to CAA late morning, so 5 crews set off to airport in hope of departure by 2pm to get some way towards Bazaruto resort which is 1100 miles away. Picture shows the usual 'hurry up and wait' scenario at a bar by the airport, and sure enough, no clearance from CAA by the cut-off time of 2pm. So another new hotel booked, this time by the sea, so at least we spent the afternoon in and by the pool. My face gives the appearance (and feeling) of spontaneous combustion about to occur
Expected clearance for Mozambique this am, but, you've guessed it - no clearance. This means no early start tomorrow, so we don't get to Bazaruto Resort tomorrow - and if no clearance tomorrow we shall have to bypass Mozambique altogether and go to SA via Malawi & Zambia. Missing the resort will not be popular - it was to be the highlight of the southbound. Aw shucks! Guided tour of local area and marketplace this morning - flies all over the meat in unrefrigerated stalls; a recipe for the return of the Khartoum Quickstep. As they say, 'Happiness in Africa is a dry fart'! Went to the beach for a most enjoyable relaxed afternoon. (should have been flying, dammit)!
2 hours to the island of Zanzibar initially at FL095 finally down to 3000' for the last 80 miles, much to the relief of GOSL who has struggled along at between FL085 & FL115 @ max all up weight for the last week or so! And now everybody is back together again (except of course for the Crusader crew who have returned to the UK). Whingeing continues by many about the organisation, much to disgust of Annette and myself.
An early morning game drive which, as always for me, was very special. Elephants around the campsite, Hippos, Hyenas, a Cheetah, an Eagle dragging a Lizard out of a crack in a rock, and a party of Mongooses (Mongeese?) on the way back to the strip. Flew back to Kilimanjaro with a very laboured climb to FL105 to transit the Ngorongoro crater for refuelling before onwards to Zanzibar
Arrived Serengeti strip - very long but stoney strip requiring great care not to damage the prop. Had a mini game drive on the way to the camp seeing a lion making a half-hearted attempt to surprise a zebra. Met up with 3 others already in the camp - so now we are back up to 7!!
Refuelled at Kilimanjaro Intl before departure to Serengeti airstrip
Having spent the night in campsite lodgings in Lokichogio - where we had a pleasant stay, meeting a chopper pilot there for a weather diversion & dining together, we departed for 3 hour flight to Nairobi Wilson and after an hours formalities took off for Kilimanjaro Intl to enter Tanzania,
Hooray!! Sam finally poled up in the Caravan at 11.30 with 3 drums of fuel asking for us to be ready asap for a departure to Kenya - to be met with a mutiny by 2 crews who said they were staying put until early tomorrow! So now we are 4! The Mooney and GOSL departed for Lokichogio as soon as cleared and had a very restless & murky 3 hr flight @ FL100. very quick refuelling for a change and much paperwork on the run saw us take off for an unknown grass strip @ 7000'. We sensibly aborted 40 miles out when it became obvious we would be beaten by sunset. Internet and phone service at last so catching up on emails. Sorry no piccys today - forgot to take any
Drowned our sorrows of yesterday by going to a traditional restaurant with superb dancers for an excellent night out. Helmut left at 8am in his turbine 206 direct for Nairobi - so now there are 7 green bottles hanging out in Addis. Fuel was supposed to arrive 10am today, then it was 5.30pm, then Customs Clearance was missed in Nairobi, so the latest plan is 10.30am tomorrow, which of course will not give us enough time to fly the 700+ miles to Nairobi...... Perhaps Monday?? Used up the afternoon by going to the museum and then being driven through the street market - the biggest in Africa. Truly amazing - if you can't find it there then it isn't available! Fuel tomorrow maybe??
Well that was a pretty unexciting day - and the photo says it all 'cos it's where we are staying. Spent all morning negotiating fuel to no avail. That which we had sourced yesterday was now unavailable due to it being tax free & specifically for the Ethiopian training school. Gave up at lunchtime and came to this hotel - supposed to be a 4* but nearer a 2* (I think it belongs to a friend of the airport manager!) Sam finally phoned mid-afternoon having leap-frogged Addis for the next stop (smart move, Sam!) to see how we were getting on (we told him!!). Latest plan is that we get some fuel flown in by plane. We'll see. As I said yesterday, 'I may be some time'!
Stuck in Addis airport. Fuel stuck at border 300 miles away with no documents to cross. More fuel sourced locally but 25 km away. Pick-up hired to get fuel to airport & pay €5/lt, but now they want paying in local currency! But wait- This is duty free fuel for the exclusive use of the Ethiopian training school and we can't have it now under any circumstances! So it's now back to the fuel at the border which may be 3 days arriving..... As Capt Oates said "I'm going outside and I may be some time"!
Addis Abeba for the last ones standing! Crusader twin had nose gear failure on TO from Damazin blocking the runway and stopping last aircraft departing. Just 5 aircraft now at Addis where disorganisation continues. Fuel coming from Benghazi stuck at the border. Handling agent incompetent & disinterested! Off to see if we can find our hotel & have a beer!
No 12 for departure from Khartoum had all the warnings go off for CHT & oil temps, so had to shut down for 10 minutes in the queue. 2 hrs to Damazin - very hot at FL55 but smooth air. Damazin a one horse town with the usual fuelling delays 3 crews with Delhi Belly in Khartoum! Off to Addis Abeba this pm to land at 7865' amsl (!?!)
Rest day in Khartoum. Lazy start, then a drive for 5 of us to ride horses along the banks of the Nile. 2 hours late getting there so now too hot for horses! Chatted to English couple newly there running it, then on to one of very many brick makers on Nile bank from Nile mud. Free afternoon, early start tomorrow for Addis Abeba
Finally cleared to leave Merowe by 9.30am - but Khartoum wouldn't accept us before 2pm! We went anyway and had no problem on arrival. Very busy airfield and very hot. Drum refuelling again and on to very nice hotel for a change. Rest day tomorrow.
Arrived Merowe just before sunset - nestling on the bank of the Nile. Amazing new airport with massive runway and zero traffic. Dongola failed to stamp our passports as Airport of Entry - so now we were illegal immigrants (and our hotel from yesterday was now full!) Released from airfield by 9.30pm with requirement to be gone by 8am.
Finally got away from Kufra. 1st refuelling out of drums at Dongola - Sudan border on the Nile. Refuelling OK if a bit messy, but massive delay for onward clearance.
500 miles across Libya. Landed Kufra at 5pm and still waiting for fuel at 8.30 when we abandoned it for the evening. 8am at airfield next day but no fuel till 10.45, so then too late for long next leg - back to grotty hotel for another night.
Landed Benghazi, efficient refuelling, but lengthy time waiting for take-off clearance
At Heraklion ready for the Big Adventure. Pre-dawn take-off with 250 mile sea crossing to Benghazi. Wonderful sunrise.
|Dates:||11 Feb 2011 - 6 Apr 2011|
|Duration:||1 month, 3 weeks|