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Back in the african sky

Back in the african sky

 

I took off yesterday (18th October) from Springs (east of Jo’burg) from 5360 ft ! Density altitude more than 7000ft ! First time in my life !
Climbing rate very different than usual you can imagine !
Once at my cruise altitude I overflew the airfield and have shaken my wings to greet my engineer team on the ground.
The air is smooth and the visibility ok, I am feeling free and enjoy that moment back into the freedom kingdom.
After a wile, the visibility is decreasing, i am flying in a dense and brownish air unappealing but still in contact with the ground.
As soon as I left the Jo’Burg TMA, the sky appeared clear again.
Bright light, nice landscape, just enjoying the flight.
After more than one hour, thermals appear and I am surprised because it’s only
9:30 am... but I forgot the the sun rise at 5:28 LT... must do the difference...
Eventually I reached the entrance of Bloemfontein Tempe zone and switch the frequency. Still air to air information, a nice pilot gives me the local QNH and the runway in use.
On downwind I hardly distinguish the very narrow runway: 11 metres wide, the exact width of my airplane!
Once at the fuel station, I am warmly welcome by Wikus, a «gentlepilot» who will take care of me all the rest of my time in Tempe. So helpful, interested, a real passionate pilot. I take the chance here to thanks him again, his help has been more precious than the one of any handling agent, he is a real friend !

 

About real friends, I must mention all the work that has been done on my plane by Raymond who came with me from Belgium to make the maintenance.
We had to change the battery and Jacques who took good care of my plane during the time I was back in Belgium found an excellent new battery at a incredibly good price !
I want to thanks again Gavin who offered me a place in his hangar since July, Jacques for his good care and good advices, all their staff, and Steve for his advices about my route.

 

This morning, Wikus, as a perfect gentlepilot, came to pick me up at my hotel at 06:00. I decided to wake up at 5:20 like I did during all flap 3, taxi at 6:00 and take off at 07:00 but I will try to advance all the timing of 30 minutes as the sun rises very early.
I took off with a high density altitude and Wikus recorded my take off... you will notice how long is my rolling!
After take off, I flew at 1000 ft AGL in a very smooth air with a GS of 94 kts.
The landscape offered me such magnificent views that I couldn’t stop recording, taking pictures...
I noticed some lenticular clouds on a top of some hills and predicted wind and turbulences...
My prediction was right and the thermals above the hills very strong. I thanks my personnal coach to trained my biceps 💪🏼 !
For a while the calm came back just the time to prepare my arrival at Graaff Reinet.
Nobody on the frequency, nobody on the field, I overfly the windsock and chose runway 22. The wind is not really strong but gusty. It is approximately in the runway axe...downwind, baseleg and final...but on final, I do not descend anymore, the thermals are so strong that I climb, idle and nose down !!!! 😱
Once above the asphalt of the runway, it was worth... difficult landing and not nice... I still have to practise in this country !
Marius, who has been contacted by Wikus, is here ready to refuel my plane as promised.
I explained him that I saw a front coming and that I am not sure to take off tomorrow. He immediately confirmed my weather forecast and discouraged me to fly in such dangerous weather.
As I always listen to the local persons advices, I decided to stay here 2 nights but now, I know it will be 4 because of this cold front.

 

I am in a splendid guest house managed by Ria, very kind lady who came to pick me up at the airfield.
The little town is adorable and looks like a Dutch town.
After a deep briefing with Wikus, my South African Ground crew, I decided to wait here until Tuesday and continue my route as planned.
I will rent a car tomorrow and David showed me the safaris that I can do by my own.
There are museums and a little town not too far that has to be visited...
I will have also some times to write 😉

 

Stay tuned 😘

 

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