Sunday, January 31, 2010

Christina and I first flew to Africa in 1996 in our Helio Courier. We flew from home in Warnerville, NY, trans-Atlantic, through Europe, and down the East African coast flying 140 hours over 5 ½ months before we rounded Cape Agulas, the southernmost point in Africa.

It was a great trip and gave our lives the new focus of promoting private flying in southern Africa. We set up an operation to give pilots an aircraft and route guidance to visit wild, remote parts of Africa while piloting a small aircraft. We’ve been doing that now for over a decade.

In many ways, flying in Africa is little different than any other part of the world. It’s air, airplanes and airstrips. ATC accents and phraseology can be different. Different weather patterns, joining and landing procedures – and the possibility of an elephant on the airstrip – are other factors pilots must consider. But if the basics are the same, the rewards – and sometimes the frustrations—of flying in Africa are unique.

Grass plains waving in the wind, breathtaking sunsets, driving among herds of elephant and buffalo, and listening to the roar of lions calling in the night, are just the headlines of endless adventure. The harmony of bush ecosystems contrasts with the shock and awe of the never-ending life and death struggle among the animals. Nothing is wasted. The elegance of luxury a bush lodge contrasts with the simple hut of an African village. But the warm reception and unwavering welcome and hospitality at both places is endearing to the soul.

All this, and more, awaits the visitor to Africa.