Monday, February 15, 2010

We want to fly an autogiro through Africa

What a great expedition and adventure awaits you on your autogyro safari through Africa! I can't say I recommend it but whatever turns you on. Plan fully!

Christina and I flew a single-engine airplane (Helio Courier) from USA to Europe to South Africa about 14 years ago. Very little was written about trans-Africa flying. We spent a year preparing for the trip. We needed to determine where we needed visas, where we could find AVGAS, how it could be paid for (cards or cash), ports of entry and exit from various countries on the route, seasonal weather, flight clearances, inoculation requirements, and more.

We flew south through east Africa, not the west as you are planning. At the time Angola was in a civil war and a ”no go” zone. We circumvented Sudan as there was a civil war going ion there then, too.

Angola has opened up but still is a difficult area to traverse. You need over flight and landing clearances. Namibia, too, requires flight clearances for all flight. South Africa requires flight plans for some flights, but not clearances. Auto gas is widely available in Namibia and South Africa, but jet A-1 (diesel) is the most commonly available fuel in Angola.

1) You will find useful information about Angola, Namibia and South Africa in “Airfields Directory for Southern Africa” (ISBN 0-620-29258-x) published by Aviation Direct cc ( and their website Much of their information is available on line.

2) Jeppesen, the provider for instrument plates and charts, is the most comprehensive source of information for nearly every aspect of flying anywhere in Africa. They have the entry requirements for every African country and the numbers to contact for clearances, flight plans, etc. Their information is expensive but indispensible – particularly if you’re doing it in an unusual aircraft (autogyro).

3) Flight clearances are also from other private vendors. International Flight Clearances cc based at Lanseria Airport (Johannesburg, South Africa) is one such company with whom we have had good experience. Tel:- +27 11 701 2330 (24 Hours) Fax:- +27 11 701 2334 Email:

4) Charts: The best available charts for navigating anywhere in Africa are the ONC’s (Operational Navigational Charts 1:1,000,000) published by the US government NOAA and available from many map companies and pilot shops. is one of them. Google “ONC charts” for a larger list. They are also probably available in Spain. These charts are useful for planning but they are big and would be a handful in the open cockpit of an autogiro. They show the best geography, but cannot be relied on for current airspace restrictions.

5) GPS: The Atlantic International database by Garmin is the best available that we know of for all of Africa. It matters less what GPS you use as long as you have the database. The most essential feature is its moving map with all current airspace. It does not include all small airfields. You’ll have to locate these through other means.

6) No amount of pre-planning is too much. Find out as much as you can about everything. Expect the unexpected. Be courteous to everyone you encounter. Look and act like a professional pilot.

7) Check our website( a selection of nice stops in Namibia.

Keep us posted and good luck!