A blessing disguise
by Lady Bush Pilot
I reached Bata’s airport as a passenger this time.
My friends from ASECNA are not there because it is Saturday.
I went to meet the police guy who still has my passeport, he asked me 80000XAF (121€) for entrance and exit of the country.
I had prepared the exact among and he took it immediately… I thought I should ask him a receipt… but his ugly face and his bad tone discourage me.
Finally after few phone calls he told me that I will get my exit stamp at Malabo because he can’t put it here…
I hesitated to ask half of my money back… for the same reasons I didn’t.
I was quiet astonished to see in an international airport, everybody running in and out the boarding gate, no scanner for the luggage and a very superficial check of the luggage of some persons only.
If you imagine a african terminal into the bush, here I have the atmosphere, the only difference is the building but all the rest is really what you can imagine…
Finally the plane arrive and we took off for a half an hour flight to Malabo where the visibility was poor.
At Malabo, all the signs are wrong: entrance is on the top of a door, it is the exit. Departure: it’s the arrival…
I should have taken this as a warning.
I am the first person ready to register my luggage.
Usually I register a small luggage with my clothes and liquids and keep my luggage with my camera, gopros and electrical stuffs with me.
But since South Africa, because the register luggage is 8 kilos and the hand luggage 12 kilos, they ask me to register everything. I did and since then I feel more confidant (what a big mistake !)
Waiting for the Air France agent, I thought: I should take off my memory sticks from camera and gopro and keep them with me.
Then, I said to myself: Pffff stop controlling everything all the time it is boring…
A second big mistake !
I registered my 2 luggages and a guy came to me asking if I want him to wrap my luggages with plastic. I said no thank you.
A third big mistake !
We took off in a triple 7 only 6 passengers on board ! Believe me ! For a 20 minutes flight to Douala.
The captain upset me a bit when he said: “we are lucky ladies and gentlemen the weather in the Guinea Golf is clear and nice” … for someone who can’t take off because of the bad weather in Guinea Golf…
We landed at Douala where we waited 2 hours for the plane to get full.
I didn’t sleep so much and we landed at Paris on time: 06:20.
Waiting for my luggages I had a bad feeling, I should say a very bad feeling and when I saw my suitcase arriving almost open, I understood that my suitcase has been visited…
I looked at it and yes, damaged and they took my camera ( with the memory stick), one gopro with his memory stick, they opened everything and took all my chargers even those they do not need. They opened my tablets against malaria, and checked in all my plane documents looking for money I guess…
The feeling at that stage is difficult to explain. I hate being a victim, and obviously I am not, this is my fault, my mistake !
I made 3 mistakes, it reminds my the model of human error from James Reason
I went to file a complaint and I missed my train to Brussels.
No coat, tired, sad, … all the people around me look very aggressive, stressed and some stupid! I don’t feel comfortable at all.
Or maybe I feel like an african migrant homeless in Paris
What I must say about the Flap 5 is that it has been very tiring to control all the time everything: the visa expire date, the flight permit expire date, renew the flight permit, some hotel booking that I must change, the weather of course, fuel, fuel delivery and storage, keep handling agent notice, change the flight plan etc. For the next step it will be the same, almost one country per day, this is a lot !
After this trip, I will be a excellent handling agent specialised in Africans adventurous pilots.
Flap 5 suspended !
by Lady Bush Pilot
Looking at the weather forecast yesterday I was convinced that I will take off this morning.
At 05:00 LT, Port Harcourt was under the influence of north wind bringing sand and dust from Sahara, visibility 800 meters !
Douala had a visibility between 3000 and 6000 meters with cumulonimbus.
I decided to cancelled the flight and the next ones.
Cotonou, Accra and Abidjan are under the same influence during days.
I will put my plane in a hangar here in Bata and fly back to Belgium with commercial flight and come back to continue later in March maybe.
The Guinea Golf is difficult to cross.
I’ve been trying calling the owner of the hangar at the airport here at Bata for 2 days now without answer.
His manager, Jose, is at the hospital with Malaria crisis but he asked me to call him with the ASECNA manager to be sure ASECNA allows me to stay on the ground with my plane.
I went to meet Salvador (from ASECNA) at the airport and call Jose. Jose wants the confirmation from the chief: Mr Fortunato. Salvador brought me to Fortunato to whom we started explaining all the story again.
He asked me to call Benjamin who gave me the landing permit to ask him a signed landing permit on paper.
I called Benjamin who is on holidays and will ask someone from his office to send the permit once signed by the minister who is on holidays as well, we must wait the other minister…
I feld suddenly hopeless and considered leaving my plane on the parking in front of the tower.
Fortunato suggested me to wait 11:30 and call Benjamin again to get the paper.
At 11:30, Benjamin will talk to someone from his office ! Pfff…
Eulogio called me telling me I need a new request, I must make the request by mail.
Yes, I will immediately and please could you answer asap ? I want to leave Bata tomorrow…
At 2 I went back to the airport to move my plane and put it out of the way of airliners. He is in front of the hangar, this is already one step forwards…
I went to Fortunato who didn’t receive anything from civil authorities.
I called Eulogio who said Did you sent the mail ? Yes sir hours ago ! And Fortunato asked Jose Louis to take me to Eulogio’s office !
He did but on our way to the civil aviation authorities we saw Eulogio driving the opposite sens…
Jose Luis called him, he said he doesn’t have electricity and can’t print my request nor stamp it.
Reaching the Civil aviation authorities we met all the other employees going out of the office.
Thanks to ASECNA’s help, I do appreciate it !
Tomorrow: I will go to meet Eulogio at his office at 09:00, take the document and bring it to Fortunato who will send them to the owner of the hangar and then I will start negotiating the price…
Eventually, maybe, at the end of the day, my plane will be hangared…
Once hangared, I will by a plane ticket to fly back home.
My FLAP5-2 will be advice on my web site as soon as I will study and analyse the local weather.
by Lady Bush Pilot
How to take a taxi in Gabon or Equatorial Guiness ?
I became very good in this sport!
You stand along the road, often many people are standing along the road together.
A taxi pass and slow down, each person tells him where he goes, how many seats he needs and the price he offers. Often, people are speaking quiet fast one after the other. The driver doesn’t look at them, he just honks each offer he accepts, be well alert and jump in the car…
A nice exemple of supply and demand !
This morning I went into the big market and I was astonished.
All supplies are made in China ! Low quality, low price, a lot of plastic and pollution behind: to make the supply and pollution it will provide after it will be used…
I can’t understand why Europe is making so much efforts while China, the worst polluter of the world is spreading his pollution all over the world.
About Europe, when people ask me where I am coming from, as soon as they ear Belgium, 2 reactions follow: good football team ! Or, good cars !
Every old car that we can’t drive in Europe for stupid green reasons is send here in Africa… don’t you know it is the same planet ?
The weather looks good tomorrow, I hope I will receive my new flight permit to Port Harcourt today !
by Lady Bush Pilot
Douala, my next destination in Cameroon, still shows very poor visibility.
I was still in Libreville and Jean-Maurice suggested me to go to “La Pirogue” to meet the owner Olivier who was a military pilot in France.
I did and I met beautiful people who offered me a warm welcome !
We spent a part of the afternoon together and we will keep in touch for sure.
All of them have incredible african stories.
Meantime, I decided to move forwards and go to Bata, a small jump but a step forward.
I succeeded to get the landing permit in 26 minutes ! Unbelievable !
Sunday 6th January, ready for take off for a short flight to Bata – Guinée Equatoriale.
Just after taking off, right turn and here I am back in the african sky, happy to overfly this amazing wild land at 1000 ft, overflying small villages, big forest and red muddy roads.
Joining the land with the reporting point, clouds appeared and I had to change my route a bit to avoid them.
I’ve been asked to report at LN but I can’t reach the point, too cloudy.
I reported the controler : abeam LN 5 NM west and I had to reach the coast line to stay clear of clouds.
I called and called Bata air controler without answer during a half an hour.
Very closed to the CTR, he finally answered.
One plane was ready to taxi to the holding point and I’ve been asked to report beginning of downwind.
I was at 1 minutes of the beginning of downwind when he cleared the airliner to backtrack. The pilot suggested to wait my landing ( thank you guy) but the air controler told him ( he was ready to take off runway 03) that I will land on runway 21…
Of course I had to extend my downwind and after his take off, the pilot started to give all his estimates, intentions etc… when I cut him to remind myself to the air controler who had obviously forget me !
Finally landed and I waited for the marsheller who never came.
After about 30 minutes, my plane secured, the marsheller arrived telling me that I must move my plane!
Since the beginning of this trip I noticed that in some countries marshellers have some power, I always try to be nice to them.
Suddenly he changed his tone and became very nice to me, helping me etc. Maybe too friendly…
We took a taxi and went to drop my stuffs at the hotel I spotted on Booking.
We lost a lot of time waiting the lady, she didn’t accept credit card, she didn’t agree with the price, the way to pay… I lost my temper and the marsheller asked me to calm down.
My stuffs in my room we went to buy two jerrycans to put mogas inside…
I didn’t want jerrycans that contained before palm oil but car oil… unfortunately nobody understood me about that, for them a can is a can ! In French, Spanish or English, no way, they couldn’t understand.
We reached the fuel station with my 2 cans that I cleaned with some fuel and we filled them up.
Back to the airport, the marsheller brought a huge stairs it was difficult to reach the tank.
Unfortunately I can’t remember who offered me (during flap 1) a pipe to siphon. It worked pretty well and I managed all the transfer by myself !
Spiros (from Larnaca) offered me a funnel that I use everyday and this time, I can assure you that it worked very well, I found some palm oil pieces in the bottom of my funnel…
The marsheller started to become a bit too sticky to me, I want to take my distance…
I went back to my hotel and I gave him some small money, he was happy, me too.
At the airport, this morning, I met the weather guy who understood my worries about the clouds all above the Guinea Golf… He told me: not good, not good… very low, maybe on the ground…. pffff I cancelled the flight !
I am in a nice Ibis Hotel, with very nice people, I take the taxi and know the prices already
The marsheller tried to scare me about Guinea (that is so dangerous, so bad people etc) I find Guinea very nice, full of friendly people and I am personally in direct contact with the chief of ASECNA and other important persons at the airport.
My plan is to renew my flight permits for Cameroon and Nigeria and try to reach or Douala or Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
If I can’t, I would consider leaving my plane here, I have the autorisation of the ASECNA and I still have to negociate the price with the owner of the nice big hangar who doesn’t answer his phone.
Bata is amazing, big and nice roads, big buildings brand new, the Chinese Embassy is a huge building with a very strange architecture.
There is a cathedral that I might visit… sea view, nice weather…
May the Force be with me !
by Lady Bush Pilot
I am still at Libreville.
The weather at Douala is ifr because of low visibility : between 1200 to 1800 during the day, 6000m during the night.
Jean-Maurice, a french local pilot who is very helpful has briefed me regarding the vfr special approach at Douala that can be made with low visibility.
Still, I am not sure of my skills.
I would go with 5000 m, even 4000 m but less than 2000 is something I don’t know.
I slept on it and this morning I decided to work on 2 options in parallel:
– If I see 4000 m visibility AND no cb at Douala, I go !
– Meantime, I will ask for a landing permit at Bata (Equatorial Guinea) to fly to Bata, refuel with mogas and fly to Port Harcourt straight from Bata, skipping Douala (and losing my barrel of avgas)… The visibility at Port Harcourt is more often around 5000 m.
My goal from the early beginning has been to be at Cotonou the 10th January for the Voodoo Day and I will do all my best to be there !
Meanwhile,yesterday, I visited the national museum here at Libreville with the masks and local traditions, I had a private guide who was a very interesting lady who taught me a lot of very interesting things about local traditions, beliefs and usages.
Challenges that I face during this trip are so different from one to the other !
Stay tuned !
Aviation: a school of patience
by Lady Bush Pilot
Heavy rain is falling on the roof of the lobby where I am sitting.
Regarding the weather yesterday evening it should be good today.
At destination the visibility is actually 3000 metres, I can’t take off now.
Yesterday I followed the advices of Jean-Maurice (local pilot who is in France right now) and I went to spend the day at Pointe Denis.
I took a boat and reach the Pointe Denis, a paradise on earth.
I met a couple: Christine and Jean with their daughter: Marianne and Noemie another relative.
Jean has a lot of passionate adventurous stories to tell during hours and you can’t stop listening to them.
Taking some distance from my trip and its organisation has been very good to me.
It was a relaxing day and we enjoyed it a lot.
We promised to meet again in Lyon, I hope so !
Yesterday evening, back at the hotel, I checked the weather that looked good all my way.
This morning, there are thunderstorms here and at destination the visibility is poor. I must wait and I hope the weather will improved because I want to take off today !
I called Serge, my handling agent who is very good and we wait.
At Douala, I have a ground contact who is Max (a friend of Jean-Maurice) and I bought a barrel of Avgas at TOTAL but the barrel must be sent to the civil aviation and I have nobody to do that…
I asked Max, he should be the best person to succeed in this mission…
keep fingers crossed !
Crossing the equator and back in the north hemisphere
by Lady Bush Pilot
The taxi-man, Severe, to whom I asked to be at my hotel at 05:30 slept in his car in front of the hotel ! A least he was there. I can’t say that the atmosphere in the hot car was fresh but it is nice to meet reliable people.
At the weather office, nobody was there, and they didn’t prepare my weather METAR and TAF as they promised !
Upset about it, I forgot to pass the immigration and went directly to the Aeroclub.
Few times later, I took off from Pointe Noire with a right turn after take off and stabilised at 800 ft.
Some clouds were just above the ground and some others above my head, I decided to keep this altitude as no elevation was on my route.
I reduced the rpm to save my fuel and started a very cool trip.
Suddenly I looked at the estimated in my Air Navigation application (which I don’t use usually) and I saw ETA Libreville: 12:26 !
I don’t know if the estimates are in local time or utc, is the time in Gabon the same than in Congo ? I checked in my phone, yes, same time…
I create a route in Sky Demon that I usually use and that is the most reliable application (no I am not paid by them but they should sponsor me !). My ETA 09:45 Z was confirmed, I checked on Fore Flight: same ETA, released….
After about one hour and a half at 800 ft, I had to climb on top of the scattered clouds at 3000 ft.
After a while, the clouds below me became broken and I couldn’t see the ground anymore. It was calm and peaceful flight.
I check again my fuel, my consumption and my estimated time of arrival, my alternates times in case… yes, I can do it, let’s reach Libreville !
From time to time I could hear some commercial airliners on the frequency but no air controler. As usual on Africa, I am alone in the african sky, completely free.
The sky in front of me looked suddenly less friendly, clouds started to bud, visibility decreased.
I tried to contact Libreville who answered !
He started asking me so many details that I was busy answering, checking everything and I didn’t notice that I need to decent and there is no hole anymore in the clouds…
I checked my fuel, my route, my speed, everything’s under control.
Suddenly from the edge of my left eye, I saw a dark spot in the withe cloud, looked at it…and yes, it is a hole! No hesitation, in few seconds, I put the carburator heat on, reduced my speed and dived into it, turn left descending then right to follow the light… here I am again at 800 ft, below the clouds with clear view.
I followed the route and the reporting points to enter the CTR and landed after 04:20 of flight! Tired, proud and happy !
For information the equator is south of the estuary, approximately where I dived below the clouds !
Serge was there with my barrel of AVGAS.
Luckily I have good tools with me to open the barrel and for the first time I used my telescopic fuel pump !
We pumped the fuel from the barrel to my 3 tanks under the hot sun, sweating a lot, some drops might have dropped and mixed with the fuel
Serge found me a place in the hangar of THE Jean-Claude Brouillet, the french guy who created the first Angolese airline ! (don’t hesitate to read his fabulous book: L’avion du blanc ! I must admit that reading that book encouraged me to start this trip)
Immigration, flight plan, schedule, hotel… I am exhausted…
I started preparing the flight to Douala for tomorrow but I am not focus on my work.
Working with 3 applications to get all informations makes all the procedure more difficult.
I realised that my flight permit for Cameroon is not valid, I asked extension that I received.
I check the weather that looks not so good but decided to wait the TAF from 05:00 LT.
I lay down on my bed to take some rest before diner and feld asleep from 6 pm to midnight with the light and tv alighted !
I went back to sleep until 5 am…checked the weather: thunderstorms, cumulonimbus all the way: I cancelled the flight.
That will give me the chance to visit a bit and understand better the weather of this new part of the world !
by Lady Bush Pilot
Sometimes, it is a problem to be a tiny aircraft in big airports:
At Catumbela, I was on final, I asked the air controler:”Am I clear to land ?”
“No, I don’t see you”, 1 minute later, “Am I clear to land ?”
“No I don’t see you”, “I am on final, Sir, on short final !”
“Ha ! clear to land!”
At Luanda, I was parked in front of the tower, I started up the engine and asked for taxi, approved but I don’t know the way and I asked, the controler said: go straight ahead ! Heuuu straight ahead but I am just in front of the tower ! Aren’t you the Jet air ? No sir, I am the most tiniest airplane of the airport just in front of the tower…. I can’t see you…
Once airborne, I turned right and I was already above the ocean.
The visibility was good on my right side and I could clearly see the shores but in front of me, the sea and the sky mixed.
The air controler asked me my estimates and it took me a while because unfortunately Sky Demon doesn’t cover Congo nor any other french African countries.
I’ve been flying for long time with this application that is the best of all, no doubts !
(no I am not paid by them)
I mean that I need to use 2 applications to get all information… not very practical.
After a while, clouds were lower and I descended at 1000 ft, it was calm, I can hardly see the coastline but I am on the good track and I can see the fisher boats on the sea below me…
I continue flying like this during more than one hour.
Reaching Soyo airfield, just before the DRC border, where the Congo river reaches the ocean, the sky cleared up and I saw many wells in the sea.
A long chimney with red flames on his top spreads dark black smog all around. I am really surprised to see so much pollution while in Europe we make so much efforts !
Just after Soyo and the Congo river (DRC) I reaches Congo Brazzaville and took contact with Pointe Noire air controler.
Suddenly the landscape changes and becomes more green with some lakes, the wind is calm and I enjoy the approach.
Landed, I reached the aeroclub of Pointe Noire where Robert welcome me.
After refuelled my plane with mogas, we parked the plane in a hangar.
Mean time, Christophe and his daughter Oceane arrived.
I went to the tower to pay the fees and give my flight plan for tomorrow morning.
The local temperature is hight with high humidity that make everybody sweating and being wet, I dream of a cold shower.
After reaching the hotel I feld so tired, no more energy to prepare the tomorrow flight that will be very long and touchy because of the low clouds and pour visibility…
Looking at the party that people organise just below my room, I decided to postpone my departure to the second of January.
I did well !
Robert invited me for a one hour, first of January local flight with his Super Petrel, we made 2 water landings and I flew at 1,5 meters of altitude above the breaking waves along the shore
What fun, what an experience !
Tomorrow taking off at 05:30Z for more than 4 hours of flight destination: Libreville !
Flights in Angola
by Lady Bush Pilot
Yesterday morning after a very bad night heckled by drunk wedding guests, I woke up and looked at the cloudy, foggy sky.
From my previous experience, I knew it will clear up soon and I get ready.
Basilio came to pick me up, flight plan, extra parking fees, hangar and the plane is ready !
Lining up on the run way at 5771 ft, leaning a bit, taking off… slowly… slowly… density altitude !
After a left turn, the view was just splendid, cloudy sky but at 7000 ft, just on top of scattered clouds, it was awesome !
The flight was calm until I started descending and the clouds disappeared when approaching the sea coast.
I made a very long final 02, landed and already felt the warm sea breeze, I was far from Lubango and the mountains.
To be sure to have enough fuel tomorrow I decided to go and find mogas.
Luckily for me, the C office’s officer, Theodore is VERY helpful and he introduced me to a taxi driver whom he trust: Gabriel.
Gabriel has been very helpful as well, there is no doubt !
My plane was already secured and we went to buy some jerrycans.
Gabriel’s english is very poor and he understood gaz containers.
I took a pen and paper and drew a jerrican… oh a “bidon” said Gabriel !!! Yes, a “bidon” ! Portuguese is much closer to French than English…
We found a lady along the road selling second hand jerrycans.
I looked at what each jerrycan contained before and checked the inside and finally I chose 2 that had contained car oil.
We went to the fuel station and I saw diesel and “gasolina”.
I asked the octane of the unleaded fuel, they couldn’t answer.
I called Raymond who told me go for it, it should be 98…
I filed up the cans and we went back to the airport.
I put the “gasolina” into my extra tank, keeping the avgas clean…
Gabriel brought me to the Fort Sao Pedro that we visited and we climbed on the top of the behind hill to get a beautiful view of Catumbela !
North of Catumbela, at Lobito, there is a peninsula that is quiet beautiful and even if it is a bit far from the airport, I decided to find a hotel there.
Gabriel was just on time this morning at 06:00, my plan was to take off at 07:00 LT to avoid low morning fog but still land at Luanda before the rain forecasted at 11:00 LT.
The nice air controler asked me my date… and I gave him my data.
After take off, he asked my estimates and I gave him them, just after, he asked me “your ETA is good ?” And I answered yes wondering why he asked me this question…
But I miss understood ! he asked me “your eighty eight is good ?” Meaning HF radio… I don’t have this kind of radio…
I’ve been looking for whales or dolphins but I’ve been unlucky this time.
The sky was cloudy and the visibility above the sea quiet “ milky” !
When I finally reached the ground, I tried the mogas… and just as Raymon told me, I felt no difference.
For a while I flew at 900 ft ! Because of the low clouds…
I reached Luanda and overflew the crowded city, landed and my handling agent was there waiting for me.
We empty the rest of mogas from my right tank and refueled all the tanks with avgas.
I add oil and breaks oil as well.
Once the plane was secured we left and I turned around to look at my buddy… in this big airport, next to big planes, my fellowed look so tiny…
Lubango – Catumbela (Angola)
by Lady Bush Pilot
by Lady Bush Pilot
Suddenly the sky got clear and Brent gave me his positive opinion for the flight.
Basilio came to pick me up and I prepared the plane and started up the engine.
I saw low clouds north of Lubango but clear view below and I was ready for a bumpy low flight.
I saw also the crossed windsock telling me I will have strong head wind…
A commercial flight was approaching and the captain told something in english to the air controler who told me : “ the airliner pilot just said that there is very low clouds and a lot of rain on your way to Catumbela and he suggests you to cancel the flight or to go to Namibe”; thank you sir but what had been the route of this pilot? The same than yours he’s coming from Luanda.
As I have a principle to follow local pilot advices, I decided to cancel the flight.
Back at MAF hangar, Basilio took me to the airliner pilot who in the mean time landed.
After all passengers disembarked, I went to greet him and thank him in his cockpit. His name is Filomeno!
I am back at the hotel where there are plenty Russians who arrived yesterday just after me.
I’ve learned that some are pilots, some are engineers and they come to work here at the air force who just bough a MIG…
Hopefully I will take off tomorrow morning to Catumbela.
Stay tuned !
Bye bye Namibia, hello Angola
by Lady Bush Pilot
On Christmas day, no good weather to fly, I’m bored like a dead rat in my hotel room.
I found a nice lake nearby (37 km) that should be a good plan for the day.
I asked Tuwilika, the nice pregnant lady at the reception about it, and after one phone call, her brother came with his wife and 2 kids, Tuwilika and me at the back of the pickup car and we are on the move to reach the lake.
After about 2 hours of different kinds of roads, we approached the lake when suddenly we got stucked in the muddy-wet sand…
I looked at the threatening black clouds, and thought: 2 kids, 1 pregnant lady and 3 other adults…. in the middle of the desert, under the storm and why not a delivery on top…? I tried to find a way to move out the car but there is no wood to put below the wheels, there is just nothing!
Except me, the african nonchalance is making everybody laughing of the situation.
After 10 minute, Christmas miracle, a car is coming to pull us out… and we continue as if nothing had happened !
We walked along the lake, watch the birds and the fishermen, enjoy that Christmas day.
On our way back, we stoped at a small traditional village to greet a relative of my new friends, and we continue to the visit their mother in her traditional house, it was an experience that I will never forget! I received a lived chicken as Christmas gift! That’s the first and most probably only time in my life! Than we continued on our way back to Ondangwa as the sun was setting slowly.
After this splendid day I slept like a baby.
The 26th, still bad weather, Tuwilika prepared my Christmas gift and we enjoyed the delicious chicken !
After that, I prepared my flight for Lubango next day hopefully.
Taxi is ordered, flight plan is sent, customs officer is asked to be at the airport at 06:00, all under controlled !
The 27th, I arrived at the airport, had to wait the customs agent and prepared my plane carefully.
Taking off with a dark sky was not my best dream but I followed the clearest route and even if I had to crossed some curtains of rain, it was a nice flight with a nice approach and landing at Lubango.
Brent from MAF offers me a place in his hangar and we refuelled my plane with the 80 litres I had sent here from Ondangwa.
Isaline came to pick me up at the airport and we spent the afternoon together.
It was a really nice time that I spent with them, belgian people, we have a lot of common friends and connections… quiet unbelievable to meet these nice people here in the heart of Africa !
We went to Fenda Da Tunda Vala, a geological interesting place that must be seen and we made a nice walk between big rocks, with the low clouds and foggy weather, it looked much more like Scotland than Africa !
Today the weather is rainy and cloudy, I am waiting to see if I can take off later or not…
My first impression of Angola is really good, very different from Namibia, different culture, different people and nature.
The only obstacle is the language, I don’t speak Portuguese… very few people speak english… they have brand new terminal, hotels but unfortunately everything doesn’t work so well… people are really nice, so far my impression from the Embassy of Angola in Belgium is confirmed !
Stay tuned !
Flap 5: First delay
by Lady Bush Pilot
I arrived at Ondangwa after 28 hours of travel, tired, not used to the heat anymore… I need some rest !
First day, I went to meet my plane in his hangar where I found her safe !
The spiders’s webs between the wheels and the chocks confirme that the plane didn’t move. The birds living in the hangar are not bates as I thought but owls !
I took off the plastic and washed the plane carefully, checked the oil, refuelled, inflated the tires, made my flight plan, order the customs officer for 05:45, and I am invited at Lubango in a belgian family for Christmas evening…
Everything looked well until I check the weather forecast one more time and noticed low clouds (less than 300 metres) at destination + rain at my ETA + stormy weather just few times after my ETA + head wind + no alternate + Lubango is mandatory for customs and my fuel has been delivered there !
=> NO GO ! I wait !
At 04:00 LT, I cancelled my taxi, the customs officer by sms, and tried to reach the air controler without success.
Without answer from the customs officer I called him at 05:15 and he pretended that he saw my text message too late… I must pay ! If I believe this one …
He asked me at what time do you leave this afternoon ?
I answered that I will wait good weather in the few next days and he told me: I will not work the 25th nor the 26th, this is Christmas ! Sir, I do not chose the weather, I will leave as soon as I have a good weather… “You have to pay” was his answer !
If I could take off this morning at 06:00 LT, I would have been very annoyed because the air controler was not there! Shall I take off or not ? Is my flight plan has been sent to Angola ?
Finally I spoke to the air controler who is on duty from 07:00 am to 07:00 pm LT, he told me, yes you can take off without air Controler ! I have your details. Just send me a message with your departure time !
That means that here in Ondangwa your flight plan = one sms !
But how is Angola aware of my flight ? Strange, I do not understand everything…
Isaline, the nice lady who invited me for Christmas evening at Lubango is really nice and she understands my weather issue…
In one word: everybody’s cool except the customs officer, a rare species, just like in all countries of the world !
Thanks to this delay, I am writing and I might go to a Christmas service in a local church…
The weather in Lubango seems worst the following hours and days…
I wish I will not get to much delay…
Flap 5: Preparation
by Lady Bush Pilot
Just back from my Flap 4, I started immediately preparing the next flap: Flap 5 which has been challenging since the first day of preparation.
This flap will overfly 13 countries and land in 11 of them. For 10 of them, I need a visa even for a crew! Luckily, I’ve got 2 passports and can work on 2 visa’s application in the same time.
Asking for visas gave me already a point of view of the mentality of the people in each country.
Let’s see if my first feeling, before starting the flap 5, will be confirmed later:
Angola: very nice people, not organised, helpful but I had to go 5 times to the embassy !
Congo: adorable people, cool, smiling and funny, they will prey for me !
Gabon: I met only one nice man and my opinion can’t be objective
Cameroon: very bad experience, bad people, rude, and agressif
Nigeria: strict administration but very nice people, proud of their country. For the funny story, you must record your application on line. You must chose an answer for eyes colour and hair colour. For hair colour I had to chose between: black, brown, grey, white… what did I put
Benin: visa has been apply on line, no opinion
Ghana: excellent opinion but not objective because the responsible man for the visa is a aviation passionate, thanks to him, he put me in contact with many pilots.
Cote d’Ivoire: easy and helpful
Mali: i’ve seen only one girl who was speaking on the phone, I can’t get an opinion
Senegal: I know already Senegal !
I’ve been running between embassies almost every morning during 4 weeks for the visas. Working in the same time to get the flight permits for each country overflown.
At Cameroon, CAA asked my visa to deliver the flight permit, the embassy asked the flight permit to deliver the visa…
For some countries you must apply on line and you have to chose between some answers like type of aircraft: A330; …; Private jet… of course there is no PA18 nor any general aviation plane… and then what to do? You are stucked and can’t go forward !
Some other time, I had 5 or 6 telephone numbers but no answer to none of them…
The email addresses mentioned are not correct… I must admit that I sometimes lost patience.
I decided straight away to look for a handling agent for Nigeria (the most dangerous country where I have to land). Mike from White Rose put me in contact with Mitchel who did a great job. Also Mitchel is really interested in my trip. And he’s going to start flying lessons soon, a handling agent who’s a pilot that’s a plus !
I want to thanks Mike very much for his interest, help and quick answers.
I was in contact with Fly IFCC that is located at Lanseria in South Africa and they offered me their help for Angola, I was not sure to accept until they found me some avgas! That was an argument !
Mitchel help me finding a handling agent for Ghana as the “on line procedure” was not possible for a small private aircraft AND the responsible guy who I called didn’t know how to do and told me: take a handling agent ! Heu is it mandatory ? Heu yes yes !
I am in contact with another handling agent in Mali but just for the landing procedure and he put me in contact with the local TOTAL agent for me to get some avgas.
I never succeeded to get any contact in Guinee Equatoriale and I finally decided not to ask the overflight permit, I will avoid their zone via the sea.
In Senegal, it is not easy to find a hangar place. Hopefully the people from the Aeroclub are really very nice and helpful especially Annie the secretary.
Dakar airport became a military airport and you need a military authorisation to land there. It is still in progress at this time I am leaving Belgium to reach back Namibia.
Another important part of the trip that took me quiet a lot of time is the AVGAS, I decided to look for AVGAS at every destination, knowing that in these countries AVGAS is very rare or non existent.
Everybody told me: there is NO avgas in Angola ! Even the pilot of the president and his logistician, Anne Bloemen working at the belgian embassy in Angola helped me a lot but told me also: no avgas in Angola.
As I said before IFCC provided me a barrel at Luanda and I sent 4 jerrycans to Lubango, Angola has Avgas for me !
My plane has the STC to burn MOGAS but I don’t like it for many reasons:
First, I experienced it only one flight,
Second, remember my 4 cylinders are new and mogas warm the cylinders more then avgas
Third, the quality of avgas in Africa, so far is excellent, I don’t know about Mogas.
In Congo, no way to get Avgas, i will refuel mogas at the aeroclub, i can rely the quality.
And I succeeded to get Avgas at each other destination! Even at Tambaccounda !
I do consider to work as a handling agent specialised for private flights around Africa since I get all these contacts ! Mike told me: do not give them to anybody
To summarise: I have my visas, almost all flight permits, avgas everywhere except in Congo, contacts everywhere or handling agent… I should be ready
My worries now are: the weather, the visibility, and to be on time in Cameroon because they gave me a visa for only 2 days !