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Offline mtbbiker

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #20 on: December 29, 2014, 04:05:07 pm »
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Offline frankmac

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #21 on: December 29, 2014, 07:14:05 pm »
The first and last time I was in Maun and Shakawe was when I went there for school holidays in 1971 with a friend whose dad flew for Wenela, transporting miners from outlying areas back to Francistown and then down to SA. His dad took us with on his flights, firstly in a Dakota DC3 and then Skymaster DC4. Exciting stuff flying low over the Okavango.
Very few tourists in those days, more hunters
Sadly, the dad, Bill Strike, died in 1974 when the ground crew filled a DC4 with the incorrect fuel and the plane crashed shortly after take-off.
 

Offline MegaPix

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #22 on: December 29, 2014, 08:08:56 pm »
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Offline zetman

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #23 on: December 29, 2014, 08:16:06 pm »
 :biggrin: lekker man gooi nog peeckhars
Hou die Tyres op die Grondpad...
 

Offline Sardine

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #24 on: January 06, 2015, 08:47:14 am »
Glorified Taxi Driver

If one says “Bush Pilot” what do you think of? Flying in Alaska, or Namibia, or Indonesia, or Botswana? Tundra tires, and landing on sand banks, and hopelessly short, muddy runways? Taking off from cliffs and flying 10ft above the ground?

Well, it’s sort of like that out here. We don’t have tundra tires, or sandbanks, or cliffs (it’s scary to see how flat Botswana is). Most of the runways we operate from are calcrete, and in fairly good condition, though when the rains come, it does get interesting. The shortest strip we fly to is 600m, but most of the others are 900-1100m; ample room. And we don’t get to fly 10ft above the ground (you can, but you’ll lose your job before you can say “Cessna”).

At the end of the day, we are, quite simply, glorified taxi drivers. We go from strip to strip, transporting clients around the Okavango Delta, doing our best to offer them top-notch service and give them the full-on African Experience. Every day is different, and take-off times can be as early as sunrise. It is not uncommon to land just before sunset, and have to tie your aircraft down in the dark. Some days are short, with only 4 or 5 movements. Other days can have 10 sectors, some as short as a 2 minute hop.

We land, unload the clients and their luggage, wish them well, greet the new clients, load them and their luggage, check the fuel, give them a safety briefing, and go. From wheels down to wheels up, we have 10 minutes to get everything done. It is fast-paced and hard work. And as such, it is easy to take the wrong bag, or even the wrong passengers; so we are always double checking everything.

But despite the pace and responsibility, it isn’t particularly stressful. Sure, there are a few “Oh snap” moments on some of the take-offs with a fully-loaded aircraft on a 38degC day, at 3100ft, from a strip that has had a bit of rain. Typically during those sort of take-offs, the mantra in my head is “It will fly, it will fly, it will fly, it will fly”. And it does, though sometimes not very well.

Interesting moments aren’t only limited to the bush. It’s not uncommon to be pre-flighting the aircraft in Maun at the start of the day, and have the CAAB (Civil Aviation of Botswana) ambulance and fire engine dice each other down the taxi-way, piloted by suit-clad drivers.

Odd place this.

It can get a bit hectic when you have 3 or 4 days in a row of early starts and late landings. But, after tying the aircraft down after over 5hrs of flying, and walking back to the terminal, body aching and covered in sand and mud, all you have to do is look back across the apron and see the sunset, and it makes absolutely everything worth it.


Offline zetman

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #25 on: January 06, 2015, 08:44:48 pm »
 :biggrin: Nice hoe lank gan jy daar werk en wat van jou Dr?
beplan  jy om jou bike soontoe te vat of werk jy heeltyd geen speeltyd
love jou fly report  :ricky:
Hou die Tyres op die Grondpad...
 

Offline Sardine

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #26 on: January 07, 2015, 09:02:42 am »
:biggrin: Nice hoe lank gan jy daar werk en wat van jou Dr?
beplan  jy om jou bike soontoe te vat of werk jy heeltyd geen speeltyd
love jou fly report  :ricky:

Zetman,

We work 6 days a week. So there is some time for speeltyd.   O0
I'm going to try get the DR up this year. It's a question of time and money, as the ride up will need to be done over at least 3 days.

Offline halfjob

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #27 on: January 07, 2015, 10:14:09 am »
Well done Heather  :thumleft: glad to see you are living your dream, might see you in june  :deal:
i only work to support my hobbies!!
 

Offline Sardine

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #28 on: January 16, 2015, 10:10:08 am »
Well done Heather  :thumleft: glad to see you are living your dream, might see you in june  :deal:

Lekker, that will be great!  :ricky:

Offline Sardine

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #29 on: January 16, 2015, 10:14:54 am »
How Many People Get To...

... Sit at a table, overlooking the Khwai River, and enjoy breakfast while listening to the calls of fish eagles, and the gentle patter of rain. While I was tucking into my eggs and mushrooms, the grunt of a hippo from somewhere down in the river made my look up from my plate of food and across the river, where I saw a lone wild dog slinking through the grass, ears perked and on the alert. He disappeared from view, and the rest of the pack could be heard calling from the trees. A beautiful sound, and a bark not unlike that of a domestic dog.

Stomach full and another cup of coffee gulped down, it’s easy to just and listen, and completely forget about all of the problems and complications that the modern world has to offer.

Truly breakfast with a view. What bliss.

And how many people have an interesting drive to work? It normally gets mundane very quickly. Back home, the only thing that made the 12km trip to work bearable was the fact that I was on my motorbike. But out here...

Morning flights done, I was tasked to wait at Savute Elephant Camp before doing my afternoon flights. Here I was able to relax and get away from the heat of the sun. I sat on the deck, sipping my coffee, while watching elephants cool off in the river not 50m away.

And while on the drive back to the airstrip, we came across a large herd of elephant, and were forced to stop and wait for them to pass.
Here are these massive creatures which could easily destroy the Land Cruiser we were in, and they couldn’t care less. Even a mother and baby weren’t phased by our presence.

The next day, while on the way from Machaba Camp to Khwai River strip, I say wild dog and zebra. And once I had pre-flighted my aircraft, I sat under the wing and watched zebra graze in the rain, thunder rumbling in the distance.

Glorified taxi driver I might be, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

Offline subie

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #30 on: January 16, 2015, 10:15:10 am »
Enjoy reading your adventures  :thumleft:
As time washes by, our footprints are all for naught
 

Offline silvrav

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #31 on: January 16, 2015, 10:29:24 am »
 :sip: :sip: :sip: :sip: more more more!!
 

Offline Sardine

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #32 on: January 16, 2015, 10:48:40 am »
Iron Butt

Christmas Eve dawned like any other day; warm with a few puffs of cloud.

Today I was going to fly to Limpopo Valley, in South Eastern Botswana, in the corner between Zimbabwe and South Africa.

My steed, the GA8 Airvan... and of course, it was the one that never flies straight due to an incident involving a zebra a few years ago.
Snacks packed, water in the cooler box, phone charged, earphones packed, and I set off around 0730. And settled in for the 3 hour leg.

Now, flying in an Airvan for anything more than 20 minutes at a time is a bit like sitting on a mx-bike for any amount of time; you will lose feeling from the waist down before you know it.

Normally I detest any flight longer than 30 minutes, as I get bored and sleepy. So doing a Maun – Kasane run of just over an hour is agony. These flights are normally made worse by being dead legs (no passengers); at least with passengers you have something else to focus on every few minutes. Naturally, I was quite worried about nodding off during this 3 hour stretch. But luckily for me, there were lots of puffs of clouds to dodge, and as this was my first time flying down that way, I kept myself entertained by taking photos of the scenery.

There were sections of the pans that reminded me of the Atlantis Dunes. Cue daydreams of home and the DR.

And what beautiful scenery it was. Complete contrast to the swamps I had grown used to; desert and pans, with the odd patch of green.

Approaching Limpopo Valley, the scenery changed again. When I was there (by car) last year, it was very brown. Now it was beautiful and green. Approaching the strip, I looked to my right and realised that the South African border was RIGHT there! I was so close to home, and sorely tempted to just keep flying.

I picked up 4 passengers at Limpopo Valley, and we set off for Francistown to refuel (1 hour). After some fuel and a stretch of the legs, we all psyched ourselves up for the next leg - 2 hours to Khwai River.
Luckily for me, despite the uncomfortable seats, my pax settled in quickly and soon drifted off to sleep, and I was left to gaze out of the window.

This leg was considerably worse than the 3 hours from Maun to Limpopo Valley, as there was nothing to look at except forest. At least I had a thunderstorm to dodge along the way.

Pax safe at Khwai, it was back to Maun empty.

I landed back in Maun around 1530, fuelled the aircraft for the next day, did the paperwork, and dragged myself back to the office, the feeling slowly returning to my lower body.

While filing my paperwork, I realised I had flown 7.5hrs, a first for me (the most I’ve done in one day was probably just under 6hrs). Normally we do 3-6hrs a day, and have 6-12 stops. So 7.5hrs with a total of 4 landings is quite something. I felt like an airline pilot, only, I hand-flew ALL of it; no autopilot for us out here.

Work done, it was time to get into the festive mood (but all I really wanted was to go home and sleep!)

Offline Sardine

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #33 on: January 16, 2015, 10:50:35 am »
The flight was good prep for a possible DR roadtrip  :ricky:

Some more peekcha's.

Offline Sardine

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #34 on: January 16, 2015, 10:52:41 am »
Nearing Limpopo Valley

Offline Sardine

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #35 on: January 16, 2015, 10:54:37 am »
On the way back to Maun from Khwai River

Offline Dustman

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #36 on: January 16, 2015, 12:25:04 pm »
Awesome story and excellent pictures. You are a star! This is story book stuff.
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Offline Offshore

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #37 on: January 16, 2015, 12:30:48 pm »
Keep it coming. Makes good reading. :thumleft:
 

Offline Oupa Foe-rie

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Re: My African Dream
« Reply #38 on: January 16, 2015, 12:58:25 pm »
Whow ................... this is excellent stuff Sardine ............  :thumleft:
Please keep on reporting ..................  :thumleft:
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Offline cruizaman

Re: My African Dream
« Reply #39 on: January 16, 2015, 01:35:23 pm »
Is the Limpopo Valley the same as the Thuli Block?

Excellent read this, I followed the "Bush Pilots" series on DSTV and this reminds me a lot thereof. At least you didn't have to wait for months to land a job! Enjoy every moment.